There are over twenty species of shimeji mushroom. They’re native to many places throughout Europe and Asia. They should be cooked before consuming, because when eaten raw they can be bitter and hard to digest. When shimeji mushrooms are cooked, their flavor is mild and nutty and they have a crunchy texture. They have a nutritional profile that’s full of protein, fiber and minerals, and they are low in calories.
Much like other mushrooms, they are also low in carbohydrates and fat. They’re very popular in Japanese cuisine and mostly used for salads, noodles, and soups. They can be eaten stir-fried, roasted, and many other ways. If there aren’t any shimeji mushrooms available to you, there are plenty of sufficient substitutes.
Some substitutes for shimeji mushrooms are shiitake mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, and porcini mushrooms. Depending on if you’re looking for a taste that’s similar to shimeji or wanting to try something different, you’ll find that these replacements work just as well.
1. Shiitake Mushrooms
Fresh shiitake mushrooms are similar to shimeji mushrooms because of their texture and versatility. They work for any recipe you’d use shimeji mushrooms for. To check which shiitake mushrooms are the best to use, see how tender the stems are. Tougher stems should be removed and can be used as a soup ingredient on their own, but tender stems can be left on the mushroom.
Shiitake mushrooms are probably the one most people have heard the name of. They grow on a tree called “Shii” in Japanese. They are dark in color and their caps are the most flavorful. The texture when cooked is often described as meaty and their flavor is rich and buttery. Shiitake mushrooms are a good source of Vitamins B and D.
They are a very popular mushroom and likely available in a grocery store near you. Something unique about shiitake mushrooms is that they have a longer shelf life than other mushrooms. Most mushrooms, and produce in general, lasts for a few days to a week. But shiitake mushrooms can be kept in the fridge for upwards of two weeks.
2. Enoki Mushrooms
Enoki mushrooms are a much used ingredient in Japanese, Korean, and Chinese cultures. Their main season goes from September to March so they are sometimes called the “winter mushroom” in English. To check the freshness of an enoki mushroom, look at its coloring. White and shiny caps indicate that they’re very fresh, while brown and slimy ones should be avoided.
These mushrooms, like the others on this list, are crunchy when cooked. Their taste is slightly fruity, which makes them a perfect addition to virtually any recipe. They’re high in protein, fiber, and copper. Enoki mushrooms are also said to boost the immune system and gut health.
3. Oyster Mushrooms
Oyster mushrooms were first cultivated during World War I in Germany. They’re now available worldwide and loved for their savory taste and fragile texture. They tend to be more flavorful as they grow, so small ones aren’t as pungent. Oyster mushrooms go best with chicken as the flavors complement each other.
They tend to be chewier in texture, in a pleasant way. They can be prepared in any imaginable way and eaten plainly or as an ingredient. Before cooking, they don’t need much preparation but should be cleaned with a damp towel.
4. Porcini Mushrooms
Porcini mushrooms are treasured in French and Italian cuisine. They are also known as king bolete and grown in some parts of Asia, Europe, and North America. In central Europe, autumn is the porcini season. Much of the mushrooms harvested are dried to be exported or consumed later.
The flavor of these mushrooms is nutty, like shimeji mushrooms. Porcini mushrooms have a thick, meaty texture and their flavor is similar to other mushrooms but it is much more rich. They can be grilled, fried, or stewed, but are most commonly sauteed to preserve their flavor. They also produce a flavorful broth when they’re soaked.
If you’re looking for a shimeji mushroom substitute, you’ll likely find one that you enjoy. Mushrooms are a major ingredient in many types of cuisine. They’re also a very healthy food, full of necessary vitamins and minerals. Whatever you look for in shimeji mushrooms, you can find another mushroom substitute that will make your recipe just as good or even better than it is with shimeji mushrooms.