Shiitake Mushrooms – Lentinula edodes

Shiitake Mushrooms
Shiitake Mushrooms

Browned butter sizzles;

Sliced shiitake in the pan;

Mouthful of heaven.


By Dr.Arnold Langsen

 This mushroom of East Asia is native to Korea, China and Japan. They grow on host trees such as the Shii tree (Castanopsis cuspidate), Asian oaks (Quercus) and beeches (Fagus) in the Orient. In the US chinkapin (Castanopsis), tan oak (Lithocarpus), or hornbeam (Carpinus) are also used. There is a growing utilization of artificial logs being used to grow Shiitake mushrooms to ensure year round availability. 


This mushroom has been under cultivation for over 1000 years. Wu Sang Kwuang was the first to write about the Shiitake, he was born during the Sung Dynasty (AD 960-1127). In China the mushroom was related to longevity and good health. It was during the Ming Dynasty (AD 1368-1644) that a physician Wu Juei wrote that the mushroom should be used for more than merely food!


As a food Shiitake are used fresh or dried, they are included in many delightful dishes such as Buddha’s Delight, a vegetarian dish. They are included in Japanese Miso soup, vegetarian dashi, steamed and simmered dishes. In Thailand they are served fried or steamed. In Russia they are most often consumed pickled. This mushroom contains all 8 amino acids that humans need in beneficial proportions. They also contain Vitamins A, B, B12, C, D, and Niacin.


In Wu Juei’s writing he refers to the Shiitake as being used to treat respiratory diseases, poor circulation, liver issues, exhaustion, and weakness, and to boost qi (life force or energy). It has also been used as an anti-cancer agent with anti-tumor activity. It also boosts anti-viral action, anti-fungal properties, and has been used to reduce bronchial inflammation.


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