Delicate and beautiful, Japanese mushrooms are a celebrated autumn food. They add distinct earthy flavors, interesting textures, and visual elegance to dishes from soups to stir-fries and rice dishes. While some families still forage for them in the wild, many varieties -- shiitake perhaps the most familiar -- are cultivated commercially.
Shiitakes are a staple in my kitchen. I add fresh ones to soups and stir-fries and steep
Bunashimeji (BOON-ah shih-MEH-gee, aka brown beech): Sold in clusters that could almost be called cute, this mushroom has a springy-crunchy texture and a mildly nutty flavor that makes it a prime candidate for all sorts of dishes. Individual stems or smaller clusters look dramatically pretty in soups, and their texture stands up well in stir-fried and sauteed dishes. They're wonderful in nabe (cook-at-the-table hot pot meals).
Recipes: Here's a roundup of interesting mushroom recipes. I can't vouch for any of them personally, because I didn't use a recipe when experimenting. But I think if you stick with simple methods (sauteeing, grilling, stir-frying, adding to soups) you can't go wrong.
- Steak, Shiitake, and Bok Choy Stir Fry from Cooking Light. You could sub any of these mushrooms in for the shiitakes.
- Mushroom Rice (Kinoko takikomi gohan) from Just Hungry. This can work with any of these mushrooms, according to author Makiko Itoh, who blogs about cooking Japanese food outside of Japan. (Also see her vegan version.)
- Vegetarian Dashi from Cooking Light (a good soup base).
- Quinoa and Maitake Mushroom Pilaf from Hungry Cravings.
- Hokto Kinoko has a number of recipes on their site, both developed by the company and by various American chefs. (Most of them are more Western than Japanese.)