5 Earthy Alternatives For Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms are a part of world-class routines. They have a rich and savory taste. No wonder they are the most popular mushrooms worldwide. However, sadly buying them can be a problem because of their price.

One embarrassing day I had to ask the cashier to remove them from my cart because I realized my budget didn’t allow me to buy them. Crestfallen as I was, I’ve had a lot of experience running out of ingredients. So it did not deter me from making my favorite recipe because I had a few shiitake mushroom substitutes up my sleeve.

Shiitake Mushrooms Substitute

But first, let’s talk about the delectable shiitake mushrooms.


What are shiitake mushrooms?

These are edible mushrooms native to East Asia. They range from light to dark brown. Moreover, their capsize ranges between five to ten centimeters. Many people consider shiitakes to be vegetables. However, they are fungi that grow on decaying hardwood.

Which country produces shiitake mushrooms?

Almost 83% of shiitake mushrooms are cultivated in Japan. However, other countries like China, Singapore, the USA, and Canada also produce them. Shiitake mushrooms are so healthy you’ll find them in dietary supplements! You can also use a shiitake mushroom grow kit to harvest them at home.

What benefits does shiitake mushroom give?

  1. Lower Cholesterol: Shiitake mushrooms have three compounds that help lower cholesterol. They are Eritadenine, Sterols, and Beta-glucans. Eritadenine inhibits the production of cholesterol. At the same time, sterol molecules prevent cholesterol absorption in the gut. Finally, we have Beta-glucans. These fibers are proven to decrease cholesterol levels.
  2. Strengthen Immune System: Shiitake mushrooms contain a specific polysaccharide that boosts our immune health. Moreover, it also reverses some age factors that cause health decline.
  3. Natural Source of Vitamin D: Mushrooms are the only natural plant source of vitamin D. Mushrooms exposed to higher levels of UV rays contain more vitamin D. This vitamin is necessary for bone health, as it increases our bone density.

How can I cook shiitake mushrooms?

Shiitake mushrooms are often sold in dried form. Therefore, it would be best if you soaked them in hot water for about fifteen minutes before using =. They have a distinct umami flavor which tastes exceptionally well in vegetarian cuisines as a substitute for meat. I find whole shiitake mushrooms way tastier than pre-cut ones.

How to cut shiitake mushrooms?

First, you have to get rid of the mushrooms’ stems. It is very tough and often remains undercooked after a long time in the pan. So stow it away for later use. I use my shiitake stems in vegetable stock. Removing the stem is pretty easy.

All you have to do is take hold of the stem and pull until it pops out cleanly. Sometimes, it might take a little twisting and tugging to free the stem. Don’t worry if your mushroom cracks in the process.

Next, you can slice or dice the mushrooms one by one or by piling them over each other. The second method will get you through the chopping process twice faster.

In what dishes can I use shiitake mushrooms?

Depending on your taste, you can add shiitake mushrooms to a huge variety of dishes. My favorite ways to eat shiitake mushrooms are:

  1. In pasta and stir-fries.
  2. In soups and vegetable stock.
  3. By roasting them for a side dish or a snack.
  4. By Sauteing mushrooms with green veggies (serve it with a poached egg).

Shiitake Mushroom Recipes:

  1. Shiitake mushroom pasta with parmesan and pepper.
  2. Caramelized shiitake mushroom risotto
  3. Stuffed shiitake mushrooms

Shiitake mushroom nutrition:

Nutrients  Per Serving (100g)
Calories 34
Dietary Fiber 2.5g
Protein 2.2g
Fat 0.5g


What Can I Use Instead of Shiitake Mushrooms?

1. Porcini Mushrooms

You can replace shiitake mushrooms with porcini mushrooms when they are unavailable. Porcini mushrooms have a deeper and nuttier flavor than most other mushrooms. Dried porcini mushrooms add depth and an earthy flavor to broths or sauces.

Nutrients  in dried Porcini mushrooms Per Serving (100 g)
Calories 307
Dietary Fiber 2.3g
Protein 7.0g
Fat 9.5g

They are a popular ingredient In European cooking, especially Italian cuisine. I love adding them to brown sauces and when grilling steaks because of their vibrant umami taste. You can also add them to pasta and risotto. Always remember to remove the stems and vertical tubes before cooking.

Although shiitake mushroom substitute perfectly mimics the shiitake taste. These mushrooms are once again an expensive variety. As porcini mushrooms are mycorrhizal, i.e., they have a complex symbiotic relationship with surrounding fauna, they are not commonly cultivated. Thus these mushrooms come in short supply, making them costlier than other more commonly available varieties.

If you want a dried shiitake mushroom substitute you can use dried porcini mushrooms.

Shiitake Mushrooms Substitute - Porcini Mushrooms


2. Portobello Mushrooms

A more affordable option is using portobello mushroom. It is an extremely common and popular variety. Moreover, it is cheap too. Portobello mushrooms are very similar in both texture and flavor to shiitake mushrooms. They have a firm texture, umami taste, and an earthy scent.

Nutrients  Per Serving (100g)
Calories 22
Dietary Fiber 1g
Protein 3.1g
Fat 0.3g

Portobello mushrooms have numerous health benefits because of their anti-cancer properties. Grill, roast, or fry them. They’ll yield a mouth-watering meaty texture. You can interchange them in any recipe that calls for shiitake mushrooms.

Always buy Portobello mushrooms with uniformly colored caps. However, dark veiled caps lend a more earthy flavor. These mushrooms are very easy to cook. I found that portobello mushrooms couple well with olive oil; it doubles their umami.

Shiitake Mushrooms Substitute - Portobello Mushrooms


3. Cremini Mushrooms

Simply put, this shiitake mushroom substitute is a mature version of the common white button mushroom. These mushrooms are often referred to as Italian, brown, or baby Bella mushrooms. They are native to North America and Europe.

Nutrients  Per Serving (100 g)
Calories 22
Dietary Fiber 0.6 g
Protein 2.5g
Fat 0.1g

Cremini mushrooms have a more intensive taste than their white counterparts. When the white button mushroom matures, its water content decreases, which concentrates its earthy and umami flavor. Moreover, it is also why cremini mushrooms turn cocoa brown with age.

Because of their low water content, these mushrooms are easier to cook. Personally love using them in recipes where I need to caramelize the mushroom. But they also have a firm texture and savoriness, making them an ideal alternative to shiitake mushrooms.

Shiitake Mushrooms Substitute - Cremini Mushrooms


4. Oyster Mushrooms

Another shiitake replacement to consider for your recipe is oyster mushrooms. This particular type of mushroom provides an anise scent and subtly sweet and umami flavor to your dish. Cook them properly, and you’ll get a very meaty flavor.

Nutrients  Per Serving (100 g)
Calories 29
Dietary Fiber 2.5g
Protein 3.31g
Fat 0.41g

You can substitute oyster mushrooms with shiitake mushrooms in most recipes. Cut away the center firm stem, and the rest of the mushroom will fall away on its own. Since these mushrooms take longer to cook, you must adjust their ingredients beforehand so as not to burn your dish. Moreover, cook them thoroughly to make the most of their flavor.

This shiitake mushroom substitute grows on wood bark, so there shouldn’t be any dirt on them, and consequently, there is no need to rinse either. However, if you desire to wash them, remember to do so quickly. As mushrooms are like sponges, soaking too much water can ruin their taste quality.

Shiitake Mushrooms Substitute - Oyster Mushrooms


5. Tempeh

Finally, I have for you a non-mushroom replacement for shiitakes. Let me introduce you to tempeh, a Japanese food quite similar to Tofu on property. This shiitake mushroom substitute is made from fermented soybeans. It is a rich protein, fiber, iron, and potassium source. This is an excellent alternative for those with mushroom allergies.

Nutrients  Per Serving (100 g)
Calories 195
Potassium  401mg
Protein 20g
Fat 11g

Tempeh might be the only non-mushroom alternative on this list, but it is the best substitute for shiitake mushrooms in general. It tastes so much like mushroom without having any of it inside it makes it an even better option.

In addition, tempeh is brimming with umami. This quality adds to its meaty texture and flavor. Although not many are aware of this option, you’ll find it about as effective as the others on this list.

Shiitake Mushrooms Substitute - Tempeh


Frequently Asked Questions

What is a substitute for oyster mushroom?
Oyster mushrooms have numerous alternatives to choose from, such as Chanterelles, Shiitakes, Portobello, and Maitake mushrooms. They all replicate their meaty and umami properties convincingly when cooked properly.
What mushroom has the most flavor?
Maitake mushroom, also known as Hen-of-the-wood, boasts an extremely savory taste. It is easily the most flavorful edible mushroom. Moreover, it is very versatile, so you can use it in any recipe and still get a wonderful result.
What is the healthiest mushroom to eat?
Shiitake mushrooms are the healthiest type of mushroom. They are proceeded by white button mushrooms and oyster mushrooms. While porcini mushrooms follow closely behind. Shiitake mushrooms boost heart health and our body’s immune system.



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