While they’re still used in other regional and national dishes as well, their popularity in Japan is also reflected in their production: More than 80% of shiitake mushrooms worldwide are Japanese grown.
These fungi are so popular because of their deep umami flavor, which is rich and earthy. They’re integral to certain types of dashi — the broth that’s the centerpiece of Japanese cooking — particularly vegetarian versions.
Other than in dashi, shiitake are also common in soups and stews, sauteed, stir-fried, and in many other savory, umami-rich dishes. They look kind of like a more rustic, woodland-esque brown button mushroom; they’re a medium-sized mushroom with a cap that’s a mildly –textured, earthy brown that somehow looks like how it tastes.
Beyond being so rich and delicious, shiitake mushrooms are high in fiber and certain vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins, zinc, vitamin D, and more, plus a bit of protein as well. You can find shiitake at all Uwajimaya stores in our produce department as well as dried shiitake mushrooms in our grocery department.