The Shiitake mushrooms have a certain chemical component in large amounts called guanosine monophosphate. This is actually the base of the flavor which actually stimulates the taste up to the point they developed a word for it: umami. Up to now it was salty, bitter, sour, sweet, basically what the human mouth could identify. Now it’s umami as well. Since they bothered to unveil a whole new taste, Shiitake must be taken in consideration as a serious competitor for any other mushroom out there.
Therefore, Shiitake mushrooms are perhaps the most aromatic mushrooms known to man. They will liven up any dish you put them in and they are extremely healthy. They contribute a lot to the immune system, lower cholesterol and side they’re incredibly meaty and rich in protein they can be used as a viable substitute for meat. They are all grown organic, because there’s no other way really to grow Shiitake, which is a good thing for people who like their food grown raw and natural, without the chemical add-ons the current world is so fond of using.
Shiitake may come in two forms: raw or dry. There’s no difference really, they cook the same and they taste the same. You can buy raw and dry them yourself. Which again is a good thing, because they don’t need any other ingredient to prolong their life in dry form.
You boil them as follows: pour boiling water over them, cover then wait for 20 minutes. It’s pretty simple. Discard the stems afterwards. The stems are not really bad but they’re very hard and woody and you’re better off without them. Or you can cut them off and use them in your next stock.
The recipes are no different than any other mushroom recipe: olive oil, garlic and herbs on a grill will do just fine. Or go all Asian and serve them on a plate of rice with oyster sauce to match. The only thing that’s different is: do not throw the water you boiled the Shiitake in. That water is exceptionally tasty and full of umami, so you’d better boil some rice in it, or use it in soups or stocks, it will definitely be a cornerstone for your cooking.
They can also go well on side dishes too, even though I’d strongly suggest Shiitake as a main component for people who would like to turn vegetarian as it makes the transition from meat-filled dishes to no-meat-filled dishes seamlessly.