Edible mushrooms and fungi are regularly used in Asian cuisines, whether fresh or dried, particularly in Chinese and Japanese cooking. Asian mushroom lovers view mushrooms as food ingredients as well as for medicinal purposes. Mushrooms have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for many thousands of years for maintaining good health and to treat many ailments. For my gluten free noodles recipes, I have included a mix of exotic mushrooms like king oyster mushrooms, brown beech mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms and enoki mushrooms stir-fried with choy sum and capsicums and tossed with gluten free pad Thai noodles. This recipe is also vegan, dairy free, nut free, soy free, corn free, egg free and allergy friendly.
King Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus Eryngii) – These mushrooms (also called king trumpet royale or French horn mushrooms) are a genus and largest in size of the oyster mushroom family. They are native to Middle East, Mediterranean provinces of Europe and North Africa plus many parts of Asia. They have chunky and meaty stems and small caps. They are edible mushrooms with a pleasant aroma and taste incredibly delicious. King oyster mushrooms are rich source of protein and dietary fiber, as well as cholesterol free and naturally gluten free. They contain a variety of bioactive molecules, loaded with antioxidants and have a substantial amount of cholesterol-lowering molecules called lovastatin. These mushrooms are an excellent source of important minerals like iron, calcium, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, copper and magnesium. They are also an abundant source of vitamin D and B group of vitamins, specifically vitamin B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B12 (cobalamin) and B13 (orotic acid). King oyster mushrooms may comprise additional minerals compared to meat and other protein sources. Health benefits of king oyster mushrooms include: boost the body’s energy level and immune system; assist in controlling blood sugar level; promotes healthy bones; maintain healthy cardiovascular system; and lower risks of cancer.
Shiitake Mushrooms (Lentinula Edodes) – These mushrooms are fungi that grow in clusters on decomposing wood of trees, mainly oak logs. They originated from Eastern parts of Asia, including China, Japan and Korea. Currently, China is the biggest producer of shiitake mushrooms worldwide, producing up to 80 to 90% of commercially sold shiitake mushrooms. Shiitake mushrooms are also one of the most familiar gourmet mushrooms and the second most cultivated mushrooms worldwide. Frequently referred to as medicinal mushrooms, they have an extensive history of use in Chinese traditional medicines for more than 6000 years ago and symbolise longevity in Asia. Dried shiitake mushrooms are also made into medicinal powder form. They are also a common and well-loved food resource in Asian cuisines for many hundreds of years and have an intense and slightly smoky flavour and can be eaten both fresh and dry. But the dried shiitake mushrooms are more commonly used in cooking and have more medicinal properties as their nutrients are compressed and enriched during the drying process. Shiitake mushrooms not only has medicinal properties but also highly versatile in cooking. In Chinese cooking, dried shiitake mushrooms are preferred due to their intense flavour with umami (savoury goodness) and the fact that they are available in abundance all year round. In cooking, dried shiitake mushrooms powder are often used as a seasoning and for texture, as a crust for tofu or meat, even added to drinks like smoothies for extra boost of flavour.
Shiitake mushroom has long be acknowledged as a super food and healing food. It is an excellent source of copper, pantothenic acid and selenium. Furthermore, it is also a good source of manganese, phosphorus, zinc, potassium, magnesium, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin D and folate (folic acid). In addition, shiitake mushroom is a good source of protein and dietary fiber. The healing powers of Shiitake mushrooms are extremely well known and recognised. Health benefits include anti-viral and anti-bacteria; anti-cancer properties from its anti-tumour polysaccharide called lentinan; assist in the reduction of blood pressure; improve cardiovascular health; help lower blood sugar level; boost the body’s immune system; improve skin health; promote liver and kidney health; help in weight loss and assist in lowering cholesterol. In traditional Chinese Medicine, shiitake mushrooms have been used for many thousands of years to enhance good health, treat and prevent cancer, improve blood circulation, in stroke prevention and to cure heart disease and infectious diseases.
The Shiitake mushrooms have caps that are normally shaped like umbrellas and medium sized with colours ranging from tan to brown. There are many variants when purchasing shiitake mushrooms, the caps can be thick and plump or thin, large or small in size and with a smooth or cracked top. In China, shiitake mushrooms are called dongo (winter mushrooms) and shanku (mountain mushrooms). An additional high quality mushroom is named huagu (flower mushroom), which has a cracking pattern on the top of the mushroom cap that resembles a flower. Another good quality shiitake mushrooms served in Chinese restaurants are called “black forest mushrooms”.
Brown Beech Mushrooms (Hypsizygus marmoreus) – these petite mushrooms (also called bunashimeji or brown clamshell mushrooms) have miniature caps with tiny brown spots and appear very charming to the eyes. They are delicate fungi that sprout in bunches and can be effortlessly separated. They originated from East Asia and have rigid and crispy textures with a nutty and buttery flavour. Both the white and brown beech mushrooms are rich source of protein and contain beta-glucan polysaccharides that help boost the body’s immune system and has anti-cancer properties. Beech mushrooms are cholesterol free, sodium free, and very low in calories. They are a rich source of mineral and vitamins like potassium, vitamin D and vitamin B3 (niacin). In addition, they are also a good source of manganese, copper, zinc, vitamin B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B9 (folic acid/folate) and B12 (cobalamin). Other health benefits of beech mushrooms include: anti-tumour properties; promote skin health; boost the immune system; and anti-inflammatory properties and reduce risks of cardiovascular diseases. Despite the tiny size of the beech mushrooms, they offers one of the greatest artery defense amongst mushrooms.
Enoki Mushrooms (Flammulina veluptipes) – these mushrooms (also called enokitake or enokidake mushrooms and golden needle mushrooms) are long and slim with tiny caps on one end. They are normally off white in colour and have a delicate fruity flavour. Enoki mushrooms originated from China, Korea and Japan and are commonly used in East Asian cuisines. They have been used in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicines for many centuries. Enoki mushrooms are not only high in protein and dietary fiber, they have no cholesterol. Furthermore, they are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals like vitamin D, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), potassium, phosphorus, copper, iron, zinc and selenium. Enoki mushrooms are also a rich source of antioxidants, especially ergothioneines. Health benefits of enoki mushrooms include: boost the immune system; prevent constipation and regulate bowel movements; maintain blood sugar level; lower risks of cancer; encourage good metabolism; reduce blood lipids level; prevent high blood pressure; maintain healthy central nervous system; prevention of allergies and decrease risks of high cholesterol levels.
I have always adored eating mushrooms especially exotic mushrooms, for the love of their meaty textures and lovely tastes, but also for the health benefits of mushrooms and at such affordable prices. Amongst all the exotic mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms are my favourite mushrooms to use in my home cooking. They are also a fantastic meat substitute for vegans and vegetarians. Mushrooms are not only versatile but also help decrease the amount of animal based proteins added to our cooking.
Disclaimer: I am NOT paid by Chang’s, Blue Label or Spring Gully Foods for this post!