|gills on hymenium|
|cap is convex|
|hymenium is free|
|stipe is bare|
spore print is whiteto buff
|ecology is saprotrophic|
The Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) (from Japanese 椎茸, シイタケ (Shiitake)) is an edible mushroom native to East Asia, which is cultivated and consumed in many Asian countries, as well as being dried and exported to many countries around the world. It is a feature of many Asian cuisines including Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean and Thai. In the East, the shiitake mushroom has long been considered a delicacy as well as a medicinal mushroom.
Taxonomy and naming
Shiitake comes from its Japanese name, shiitake. listen (help·info) (kanji: 椎茸; literally "shii mushroom", from "shii" the Japanese name of the tree Castanopsis cuspidata that provides the dead logs on which it is typically cultivated).
In Chinese, it is called xiānggū (香菇, literally "fragrant mushroom"). Two Chinese variant names for high grades of shiitake are dōnggū (Chinese: 冬菇, "winter mushroom") and huāgū (花菇, "flower mushroom", which has a flower-like cracking pattern on the mushroom's upper surface); both are produced at lower temperatures.
Shiitake are native to Japan, China and Korea and have been grown in all three countries since prehistoric times. They have been cultivated for over 1,000 years. The oldest record regarding the shiitake mushroom dates back to CE 199 at the time of Emperor Chūai in Japan. However, the first written record of shiitake cultivation can be traced to Wu Sang Kwuang in China, born during the Sung Dynasty (AD 960–1127).
During the Ming Dynasty (AD 1368–1644), physician Wu Juei wrote that the mushroom could be used not only as a food but as a medicinal mushroom, taken as a remedy for upper respiratory diseases, poor blood circulation, liver trouble, exhaustion and weakness, and to boost qi, or life energy. It was also believed to prevent premature aging.
The Japanese cultivated the mushroom by cutting shii trees with axes and placing the logs by trees that were already growing shiitake or contained shiitake spores. Before 1982, the Japanese variety of these mushrooms could only be grown in traditional locations using ancient methods. In 1982, Gary F. Leatham published an academic paper based on his research on the budding and growth of the Japan Islands variety; the work helped make commercial cultivation possible in the United States.
Fresh and dried shiitake have many uses in the cuisines of East Asia. In Chinese cuisine, they are often sauteed in vegetarian dishes such as Buddha's delight. In Japan, they are served in miso soup, used as the basis for a kind of vegetarian dashi, and also as an ingredient in many steamed and simmered dishes. In Thailand, they may be served either fried or steamed.
Shiitake are often dried and sold as preserved food in packages. These must be rehydrated by soaking in water before using. Many people prefer dried shiitake to fresh, considering that the sun-drying process draws out the umami flavour from the dried mushrooms by breaking down proteins into amino acids and transforms ergosterol to vitamin D. The stems of shiitake are rarely used in Japanese and other cuisines, primarily because the stems are harder and take longer to cook than the soft fleshy caps. The highest grade of shiitake are called donko in Japanese.
Today, shiitake mushrooms have become popular in many other countries as well. Russia produces and also consumes large amounts of them, mostly sold pickled; and the shiitake is slowly making its way into western cuisine as well. There is a global industry in shiitake production, with local farms in most western countries in addition to large scale importation from China, Japan, Korea and elsewhere.
Because they can now be grown world wide, their availability is widespread and their price has decreased.
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||191 kJ (46 kcal)|
|- Sugars||0.8 g|
|- Dietary fiber||37.7 g|
|Thiamine (vit. B1)||1.00 mg (87%)|
|Riboflavin (vit. B2)||1.00 mg (83%)|
|Niacin (vit. B3)||10.0 mg (67%)|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||5.2 mg (104%)|
|Vitamin D||46000 IU (7667%)|
|Iron||10.4 mg (80%)|
|Sodium||0.01 mg (0%)|
|Percentages are relative to|
US recommendations for adults.
Preliminary laboratory research has indicated shiitake mushroom may stimulate the immune system, possess antibacterial properties, reduce platelet aggregation, and possess antiviral properties, possibly through proteinase inhibitors.
Consumption of raw or slightly cooked shiitake mushrooms can cause "an erythematous, micro-papular, streaky, extremely pruriginous rash" that occurs all over the body including face and scalp, which appears about 48 hours after consumption and disappears after 10 days. This effect, caused by the toxin lentinan, is well known in Asia, but can be unfamiliar to European physicians. It occurs in roughly 1 in 50 people, and thorough cooking eliminates the effect.
Shiitake isolate AHCC
Active hexose correlated compound (AHCC) is an α-glucan-rich compound isolated from shiitake. In Japan, AHCC is the second most popular complementary and alternative medicine used by cancer patients. and is metabolized via the CYP450 2D6 pathway.
Research using animal models has shown that AHCC may increase the body's resistance to pathogens as shown in experiments with the influenza virus, West Nile encephalitis virus, and bacterial infection. Animal research and limited clinical trials suggest that AHCC may enhance immune function. A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 21 people provided preliminary evidence that AHCC may enhance immune function. Other basic research has shown that AHCC may affect hepatocellular carcinoma and prostate cancer.
Lentinan, a compound isolated from shiitake, is used as an intravenous anticancer agent in some countries. Laboratory studies showed that lentinan may have antitumor properties, whereas preliminary clinical studies indicated lentinan may affect survival rate, quality of life, and cancer recurrence.
The Shiitake Growers Cooperative, in Japan's Oita Prefecture, awards the winner of each bimonthly Japan Sumo Association tournament (Nihon Sumo Kyokai honbasho) a ceremonial large glass filled with shiitake mushrooms, as well as a cash prize.
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- Mushrooms and vitamin D
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- Tsuji, Shizuo (1980). Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art. New York: Kodansha International/USA.
- Journal articles