Shiitake mushrooms – tasty and healthy

The name “shiitake”, which is unusual for our hearing, has a simple and understandable origin for every Japanese: “Shi” is the Japanese name for the tree (Castanopsiscuspidate), on which this mushroom most often grows in nature, and “take” means “mushroom”. Often, shiitake is also simply called “Japanese forest mushroom” – and everyone understands what it is about.

This mushroom is commonly called Japanese, but it grows and is specially grown, including in China. Shiitake mushrooms have been known in China and Japan for more than a thousand years, and according to some written sources, since the second century BC! One of the oldest reliable written evidence of the benefits of shiitake belongs to the famous Chinese medieval physician Wu Juei, who wrote that shiitake mushrooms are not only tasty and nutritious, but also healing: they heal the upper respiratory tract, liver, help against weakness and loss of strength, improve blood circulation, slow down the aging of the body and increase the overall tone. Thus, even the official (imperial) Chinese medicine adopted shiitake as early as the 13th-16th centuries. Tasty and healthy mushrooms, also known for their ability to increase potency, quickly fell in love with the Chinese nobility, which is why they are now also called “Chinese imperial mushrooms.” Along with Reishi mushrooms, these are the most beloved mushrooms in China – and in this country they know a lot about traditional medicine!

The information of medieval healers, most likely based on observations and experience, has not become outdated to this day. On the contrary, modern Japanese, Chinese and Western scientists are finding new scientific evidence for it. Doctors, in particular, have proven that shiitake helps lower blood cholesterol (only a weekly intake of mushrooms as an additive reduces plasma cholesterol by 12%!), fight excess weight, help with impotence, improve skin condition. The latter, of course, is especially interesting to the general consumer, therefore, based on shiitake mushrooms in Japan, the USA, China and other countries, fashionable and highly effective cosmetics are being created these days. In addition, preparations using fungal mycelium extract are successfully used as ancillary in the treatment of malignant diseases. In any case, shiitake contains strong antioxidants that protect the body from the development of tumors – so in our days of far from ideal ecology, this is a good prevention.

It is usually said that “bitter medicine is useful.” But the case of shiitake mushrooms is a happy exception to this rule. These mushrooms are already known all over the world, they are loved by many; with shiitake, more and more new recipes appear – the benefit of their preparation is simple and quick, and the taste is rich, “forest”. The mushroom is sold in dried, raw and pickled form. Not surprisingly, the production of shiitake is in full swing, at the beginning of the 21st century it was about 800 tons per year.

There is one curious nuance in growing shiitake – they grow fastest on sawdust, and this is the easiest and most profitable commercial (mass) production method. Wild mushrooms, or those grown on whole wood (on specially prepared logs) are much more useful, this is no longer food, but medicine. The first harvest of such mushrooms can be harvested only after a year, while the “sawdust” shiitake – in a month! Restaurants around the world use the first type of mushrooms (from sawdust) – they are tastier and larger. And the second type is more expensive, and comes mainly to the pharmacy chain. They are much more beneficial polysaccharide, which, as established by Japanese science, helps fight cancer and other serious diseases. Mushrooms of the same first grade, grown on sawdust, also contain, but in small doses, so this is a tasty and healthy food rather for the prevention of diseases and overall health promotion.

“Food” shiitake act gradually, gently. Such data was discovered in the course of a special study in 1969 by an advanced Japanese physician, Dr. Tetsuro Ikekawa from Purdue University, Tokyo (this unknown institution in Japan is famous because it specializes specifically in the study of drugs for malignant tumors). The doctor also found that it is the shiitake decoction (soup) that is most useful, and not other forms of eating the product. This is also confirmed historically – the emperor and the nobility were fed and watered in the past era with decoctions of shiitake mushrooms. Ikekawa became famous for his discovery to the whole world – although it should be called a “re-discovery”, because according to Chinese historians, back in the 14th century, the Chinese doctor Ru Wui testified that shiitake was effective in treating tumors (scrolls with his records are stored in the Imperial Archives in China). Be that as it may, the discovery is useful and reliable, and today shiitake extracts are officially recognized as a cancer treatment not only in Japan and China, but also in India, Singapore, Vietnam and South Korea. It is clear that if you don’t have cancer or impotence (and thank God), then eating this healthy mushroom will also not be harmful, but very useful – because. Shiitake does not act aggressively against any disease, but is beneficial to the entire body, primarily strengthening the immune system as a whole.

Shiitake mushrooms are not only medicinal, but also very nutritious – they contain vitamins (A, D, C, and group B), trace elements (sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, selenium, etc.), as well as a number of amino acids, including essential ones, and in addition fatty acids and polysaccharides (including the very famous one). It is polysaccharides that have a beneficial effect on the immune system.

But the main good news for vegetarians is that these nutritious and healthy mushrooms are really delicious, quick to prepare, and you can make tons of recipes with them!


Shiitake is an “elite” product, dishes from which can be found in expensive restaurants. But it can also be used in an ordinary kitchen: cooking shiitake is easy!

Hats are mainly eaten, because. legs are hard. Often, therefore, it is shiitake hats that are sold, including dried ones. Hats are used to make (other than the obvious mushroom soup) sauces, smoothies, sweets (!), and even yogurt.

Dried mushrooms must first be boiled (3-4 minutes), and then, if desired, you can fry a little, so that the water completely evaporates. To taste when roasting, it is good to add seasonings, walnuts, almonds. From shiitake, it is easy to achieve the appearance of a “meat” taste, which will appeal to “new converts” and not ideological, but dietary vegetarians.


Shiitake mushrooms cannot be poisoned, but excessive consumption (the maximum daily intake is 16–20 g of dried mushrooms or 160–200 g of fresh mushrooms) is not useful and can cause indigestion, especially in children under 12 years old. It is also not recommended to use shiitake for pregnant and lactating women, because. it is actually a medicinal, potent drug, and its effect on the fetus has not yet been sufficiently studied.

With bronchial asthma, shiitake is also not indicated.

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