Just like people, shiitake mushrooms come in all shapes and sizes.
Uniformity might be prized for mass-produced, cultivated mushrooms grown indoors, but greater flavor can be found in nature. Forest-grown Sugimoto shiitake are exposed to greater variation in sun, rain, and wind which in turn creates a greater depth of the flavor, richer texture, and higher nutritional value. This method has withstood the test of time, serving Japanese growers well for over 1000 years with countless bountiful harvests to show for it.
Donko are gathered before the mushroom can fully bloom or open up. These shiitake are a thicker, chewier, and meatier, but smaller overall. The name itself from the Chinese word for “winter,” as they’re harvested primarily in the cooler months from January to April.
Koshin, bearing flatter but larger caps, are named after the word for “fragrant.” Brilliantly aromatic, they produce an ambrosial bouquet of umami before you even take a bite. Fully mature when harvested, they’re inactive during the summer months due to the high temperatures, but flourish in fall for plentiful late autumn yields.
Although they’re born of the same spores, the mushrooms change shape and texture depending on the time of harvest.
Both varieties perform splendidly in a wide range of dishes, but to maximize the unique qualities of such delicately nuanced, artisanal products, it’s important to know their strengths. The best way to honor the work of the 600 family farmers, who painstakingly nurturing these spores deep in the mountains, is to treat their shiitake with care and respect.
Utilizing the inherent textural advantages the Donko shiitake has to offer in creating a firmer, juicier bite, they’re the only type of dried mushroom that can be brought back to life as a satisfying base for stuffing. Most others would buckle under the weight if dressed with a mere teaspoon topping, but these sturdy caps stand up to the demands as superlative finger foods.
Quick, homemade nut cheese dazzles with fresh herbs and a luscious creamy texture that seems to defy its dairy-free components. Vegan yogurt adds a slightly tangy, funky note, like earthy yet mild goat cheese, perfectly paired with the rich umami mushrooms underneath. Thick enough to spread on a bagel like cream cheese, it has a distinctly buttery quality thanks to a touch of nutritional yeast and sweet white miso paste. To enhance the aroma that might be lessened in the Donko shiitake, additional dried shiitake powder gives this schmear an irresistible final savory punch.
Herbed Nut Cheese:
- 1 Cup Blanched Almond Flour
- 1/4 Cup Plain, Unsweetened Vegan Yogurt
- 2 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley, Roughly Chopped
- 1 Tablespoon White Miso Paste
- 1 Tablespoon Nutritional Yeast
- 1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
- 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1/4 Teaspoon Dried Shiitake Powder (Optional)
- 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
Mushrooms and Assembly:
- 2 Ounces Dried Donko Shiitake Mushrooms, Soaked for 24 Hours
- Olive Oil Spray
- To make the nut cheese, place the almond flour, yogurt, parsley, miso paste, nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder, shiitake powder (if using), and black pepper in the bowl of your food processor. Blend, pausing periodically to scrape down the sides of the bowl with your spatula, for about 5 minutes. The mixture should be smooth and creamy. Transfer to an airtight container and let rest in the fridge for 24 hours to allow the flavors to meld.
- When you're ready to prepare the dish, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Carefully cut the stems out of the rehydrated mushrooms, saving them for another recipe (such as soup, bolognese, curry, and more.)
- Spoon a heaping dollop of the nut cheese into each cap, mounding it generously on top. The exact amount will vary depending on the size of the mushroom. Place the stuffed mushrooms on your prepared baking sheet and lightly spritz them all over with olive oil.
- Move the sheet into the oven carefully, as they're liable to roll. Bake for 14 - 18 minutes, until evenly browned on top. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. They're fantastic warm or at room temperature.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 72Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 58mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 3g
All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimations.
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