Shirakami Awabitake Mushrooms
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|Food Buzz: History of Mushrooms|
Shirakami Awabitake mushrooms are medium to large in size with caps that average 8-10 centimeters in diameter and are attached to thick, stout stems. The white to cream-colored caps are smooth, thick, and dense with rounded, slightly flattened tops and curled edges. Underneath the caps, there are many light brown to grey gills that are closely arranged and connect into the thick, white, fibrous stem. When cooked, Shirakami Awabitake mushrooms are crisp, velvety, and chewy with a meat-like consistency and have a mild flavor reminiscent of the aquatic shellfish, abalone.
Shirakami Awabitake mushrooms are available year-round.
Shirakami Awabitake mushrooms are a hybrid of the king trumpet mushroom, Pleurotus eryngii, and the Chinese abalone mushroom, Pleurotus nebrodensis and belong to the Pleurotaceae family. Also known as Bai-Ling-Gu in Chinese and Daiotake, Shirakami Awabitake mushrooms are a relatively new variety in the commercial marketplace. Named “bai” in Chinese for its white fruiting body and “ling” for its similarity in appearance to the lanzi mushroom, these mushrooms are rare and are highly valued for their shellfish-like flavor and dense texture.
Shirakami Awabitake mushrooms are rich in the umami compound guanylate which is often used as dashi, also known as soup stock in Japanese cooking. In addition, they contain a high amount of dietary fiber and some copper, zinc, iron, and phosphorus.
Shirakami Awabitake mushrooms are best suited for cooked applications such as braising, steaming, frying, searing, and broiling. They are popularly used in stir-fries, soups, stews, casseroles, teriyaki, tempura, and cooked and served with meats such as bulgogi. They can also be found in can form and are used as a substitute for seafood in vegetarian dishes. Shirakami Awabitake mushrooms pair well with tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, snap peas, eggplant, baby corn, water chestnuts, garlic, onions, shallots, ginger, tofu, pork, foie gras, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and soy sauce. They will keep up to seven days when stored in a dry place such as a paper bag in the refrigerator.
Shirakami Awabitake mushrooms are often referred to as the “prince of edible mushrooms” in Asia and are cultivated on broad-leaf trees and sawdust from Japanese cedars that come from the Shirakami mountain district in Akita prefecture and Aomori prefecture. They are also cultivated in a controlled environment without the use of fertilizers and insecticides which provides year-round production.
Shirakami Awabitake mushrooms were developed by an inoculum created by the Kinokkusu Corporation in the Miyazaki prefecture, Japan. Today the mushroom company, Mush Family, in the Akita prefecture of Japan, are the only producers growing developed Shirakami Awabitake mushrooms since 2008. Shirakami Awabitake mushrooms can be found at select retailers in both fresh and canned form in Asia.
Recipes that include Shirakami Awabitake Mushrooms. One is easiest, three is harder.