Healthy and Tasty Asian Mushrooms by Wendy Gist

Want to add some variety to your diet? The Asian mushrooms—maitake, reishi and shiitake—are truly amazing as they may have the potential to boost immunity as well as supporting the lungs and other organs. They are also used as a component of cancer therapy and improving the immune status of individuals infected with HIV. Japan and China incorporate mushrooms into their diets as a therapy for disease. For centuries, the Chinese have cultivated mushrooms in pursuit of culinary, medicinal and nutritional treasures.

A 2005 study published in Nutrition revealed that a polysaccharide extracted from maitake mushrooms “can decrease the effective dosage in tumor-bearing mice […] and thus provide a potential clinical benefit for patients with cancer.”

Culinary Tips

Maitake and Shiitake show special promise in enriching life while engrossing the taste buds. Here’s how you can devour their goodness:

Tip 1: Maitake mushrooms are an excellent replacement for white button mushrooms and work great in Italian pasta dishes or alone sautéed in butter. Impress your Spring party crowd with rich variety.

Tip 2: Reishi mushrooms are not generally recommended for culinary use. Reishi may provide powerful medicinal qualities prepared as a tea decoction made from the dry mushroom or taken in capsule form. Pill form is most often preferred, since reishi can be bitter when used as tea. Follow the recommended dosage provided by a health-care expert.

Tip 3: Shiitake make a tasty and rich teriyaki marinade. Consider a unique shiitake teriyaki tuna steak. Simply pour marinade and mushrooms over tuna steak. Let sit for approximately twenty minutes. Use the marinade as a glaze when grilling or baking tuna (yellow tail steaks are ideal). Try dicing the mushrooms into very small pieces and adding them to a batch of vegetarian chili for meaty texture. Add to Miso soup, enjoy its woodsy flavor.

Tip 4: Clean before preparing. Wipe fresh mushrooms with a damp cloth, a wet paper towel or a soft vegetable brush. Soak dried mushrooms in water for one hour. If you soak the fresh mushrooms in water, the once firm texture will become soggy and swell. Remove stems.

Tip 5: Be advised that some mushrooms are highly toxic and can be deadly when ingested. It’s crucial to know thy mushroom.

Tip 6: Locate at Oriental markets, local grocery stores and health food outlets.

Books (available at

  • The Shiitake Way: Vegetarian Cooking With Shiitake Mushrooms (Paperback) by Jennifer Snyder (Author)
  • Shiitake: The Healing Mushroom (Paperback) by Kenneth Jones (Author)
  • Maitake Mushroom & D Fraction (Paperback) by Shari Lieberman (Author)
  • Reishi Mushroom: Herb of Spiritual Potency and Medical Wonder (Paperback) by Terry Willard (Author), Christopher Hobbs (Illustrator)