All about Japanese Shrooms

What’s the Deal with Mushrooms?

Some of them get you as high as a kite, and others can kill you, but all of these little fungi are fascinating. They help with the decomposition of dead trees and animals. And they are a symbol of the most internationally iconic video game, the Super Mario Brothers. A whopping 45,000 species of mushroom exist all over the world. Also, after much trial and error by our ancestors, we of the human race learned that some of them are even a great enough nutritional benefit to use for medicinal purposes. What makes them so good for us?  Is there a reason that a lot of vegetarians use them in broths and salads, or why they make a good garnish? We will examine several types of mushrooms over the course of the next few weeks, worldwide, to find out.


Japanese Mushrooms

Stemming from the Chinese philosophy of food being medicine for the body, the traditional Japanese diet is considered one of the more nutritious diets worldwide.  Hell, just one region of Japan, Okinawa, boasts one of the highest lifespans all over the world, thanks to their diet and lifestyle. In fact, before the introduction of western style food, obesity wasn’t considered a problem in Japan.

The typical Japanese diet consists mostly of vegetables like roots and seaweed, all sorts of saltwater fish, rice, and you guessed it mushrooms. They have all kinds of mushrooms, some of which are eaten daily, and others that are outright delicacies.  So, let’s take a look at some of these exotic mushrooms and look at what sort of nutritional benefits they have.


Shitake (She-tah-kay)

This is most likely one of the more well known edible fungi from Japan thanks to it sounding closer to a curse word than an actual food item. However, there is more than meets the eye to this humorous sounding mushroom. It’s called ‘shi’ ‘take’ because the word “shi” in Japanese means tree and the word “take” means mushroom. Put those words together and they are literally called “Mushrooms that Grow on Trees”.

This mushroom has a cap that is large, porous, and cracked with a stem that is long and white. It can be eaten raw, cooked, or steamed and can grow easily on trees that are cut down into logs. In fact, one popular shitake farming technique involves the cutting down of logs and standing them up in large groups to encourage growth.


Shitake Nutrition

The nutritional value of the shitake mushroom can’t be overstated. For starters, these little guys are high in Vitamin B & D. These are good for both easing general anxiety and depression, as well as recreating blood cells and DNA.  Phosphorous is good for reducing bone damage, helps your body detox by urinating and is even needed for cognitive functions. I guess shitake mushrooms are brain food!


Namekotake (Nah- Meh-Ko)


Now, we are going to be looking at the Nameko, a tiny mushroom that has a slime covered orange cap. They grow on the logs of dead beach trees and

nameko japanese mushroomhas a name that literally translates to “slimy mushroom”. The good news is that once cooked, the mushroom slime has no taste, so its good to eat. They are best served either as part of a stir-fry or a stew, thanks to their small size and the slime acting as a natural thickener. Now that we know what makes them edible and easily found, we need to learn makes them good for you.

Namekotake Nutrition

The micronutrients naturally found in this little guy include Vitamin B, Copper, Potassium, and Calcium. These vitamins and minerals work hard to strengthen your immune system, lowers bad cholesterol, increases the likelihood of resisting cancer and tumors and promotes resistance to infections like staph and MRCA.  That last one is particularly important since staph infection and MRCA can wreak havoc on your immune system and can make your body resist life-saving antibiotics.


Enokitake ( En-oh-key)

japanese, mushrooms, enokiThese are small white mushrooms that grow in small white clusters on fruit trees such as mulberry and persimmon. They mainly grow on Chinese Hackberry trees and are even named after that particular species of tree. These little guys are mostly found in soups and stews because of their long thin stems and take on a noodly texture once they have been boiled all the way through. They are also mostly used as a garnish for side dishes and salads since their flavor isn’t particularly strong.


Enokitake Nutrition-

These small mushrooms may look unassuming, but they do more for you than you think. For instance, they are the only mushrooms listed in this article to have both protein and fiber.  They also pack vitamin B & D and copper on just like the other ones. What makes them so incredible is that one cup of these things is enough to help regulate your blood sugar and prevent constipation on top of all the other benefits mentioned by the other mushrooms. Who knew something so amazing came from something so small? Feel free to give them a try when you are at the store sometime.

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