Mushrooms used in Asian cooking @ QVM

Posted by: Scott Ko

Descending from a Chinese heritage, dried Asian mushrooms are a common staple at our house. Used in many Cantonese, Korean and Japanese dishes, Asian mushrooms possess a delicate flavour and texture perfect for stir fry and soup based dishes. Here are the most commonly used:

1. Shiitake

The most commonly available in both dried and fresh forms. Many asians living in Western countries have taken to buying the dried variety in bulk from Hong Kong and China. Traditionally used for medicinal purposes, shiitake varieties are commonly used in meaty stir fries, soups and sauces.  Similar to its Western counterpart with a fleshy cap and distinct stem, the shiitake has a darker veined appearance with its flavour described as ‘earthy’ and rich. Rinse well, and soak in hot water for at least 30 minutes before use.

Shiitake MushroomShiitake Mushroom

2. Enoki

My absolute favourite variety – Enoki is known for its needle like appearance topped by a small white cap. It has a crisp, crunchy texture, complemented by a mild fruity flavour.  Enoki has a multitude of uses. I’ve seen it fried as a tasty garnish, used in hearty broths and soups, added to stir fry dishes and all are immensely delicious. Place the Enoki under cold running water for approx. 10 minutes before use. There is no need to separate the clumps.

Enoki Mushroom Fried enoki garnish


3. Oyster 

Found in King and smaller varieties – the Oyster mushroom is described as having a ‘peppery’ robust flavour when raw.  The flavour softens when heated and is suitable for use in casseroles, soups and stir-fried dishes. The King varieties have a much more intense flavour. Available in canned and fresh forms , oyster mushrooms are available all year round. Rinse before using.


4. Shimejii

Shimejii Mushrooms taste similar to an oyster mushroom with greater intensity. Found in large clumps with white bases and speckled brown caps, the flavour can be described as ‘buttery’ and nutty. These cannot be eaten raw, so be sure to cook these well. Great in noodles, soups and stir-fried dishes. Separate clumps before use.



5. Abalone 

Famed in Asian cuisine as an abalone substitute. The abalone is a larger variety of the oyster mushroom. The texture can be described as spongy and meaty, commonly used in seafood and soup dishes. It is a popular Chinese new year ingredient used alongside actual abalone.



6. Snow and Black Fungus

Not the most attractive of varieties, the fungus variety grows on trees with a mild smokey flavour. The texture is similar to seaweed and is sliced into thin strips before use. Great in sauces, soups, stir-fried dishes and ‘Tong sui’ (Asian dessert).



Where can I buy Asian mushroooms ?

Asian grocers and markets. There is a great mushroom stall next to ‘Green Valley Spices’ at the Queen Victoria Markets. They stock most of the varieties mentioned above, imported from Asian countries such as Korea, China and Japan. They sell these alongside the standard Western and European varieties. The store doesn’t have a name per se but has the same owner as ‘ Green Valley Spices’ next door. I shared a friendly chat with one of the workers that had moved from Nepal who is very passionate about mushrooms and spices. The store also stocks organically grown varieties.



Green Valley Spices  (next door) 

Stalls 36-40

Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne

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