Shiitake mushrooms have a rich, earthy flavor and a distinctive taste best described as meaty. These mushrooms have large caps measuring 2 to 5 inches wide, and they vary in color from light to chocolate brown, providing an attractive contrast with their pale cream underside.
Mushrooms have a distinct umami flavor, which can be especially helpful when making vegetarian dishes.
Remove plastic coverings and store mushrooms in a breathable paper bag. In dark and cool conditions (41 degrees Fahrenheit), shiitake mushrooms can last several weeks.
Before cutting or cooking with fresh mushrooms, clean them well using a mushroom brush or a damp paper towel to remove dirt, remove the stems, which remain tough even after cooking. Do this immediately before using them to avoid spoilage. Save the stems in the freezer for making veggie stock.
Shiitakes offer an umami-rich, meat-like texture that's perfect for savory dishes. Consider using shiitake mushrooms in stir-fries or mixing them into burgers to increase your vegetable intake. Shiitake mushroom stems are tougher than the caps and are best used in broths.