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Shiitake mushrooms have umbrella-shaped caps, wide open veils, tan gills and curved stems.
Shiitake mushrooms are often described as having an earthy, smoky flavor and a rich meaty-yet-buttery texture when cooked. It’s no surprise that they are commonly found in an array of dishes that call for bold flavors, yet they are just as at home in weeknight pizza and pasta dishes.
Flavor and texture
Shiitake mushrooms sport a rich, woodsy flavor that intensifies when cooked, lending a savory umami flavor to every dish in which they star. They have a dense, meaty texture and stems that range from tender to fibrous. Tough stems should be removed and saved for use in soups and stocks.
At the grocery store, select shiitake mushrooms that are firm with a fresh, smooth appearance. The surface of the mushroom should be dry, but not dried out, and appear plump. Gills should appear firm. Store mushrooms in original packaging or in a porous paper bag for prolonged shelf life. Some mushrooms may keep for up to a week in the refrigerator. Fresh mushrooms should never be frozen, but frozen sautéed mushrooms will keep for up to one month. To clean mushrooms, brush off any debris from mushrooms with fingers or a damp paper towel, or rinse briefly under running water and pat dry with a paper towel. If the shiitake mushroom stem is tough or woody, remove and save to add delicious umami flavor to soups and stocks.