Writer: Yumiko Ishimaru
Types of Shiitake Mushrooms – “Donko” and “Koshin” –
Dashi made from “Musurooms” could be the easiest to imagine the taste among the stocks I have introduced so far. Shiitake are sold fresh and dry. We can only use dried shiitake mushrooms for dashi. Dried shiitake have way more umami than fresh ones.
What makes it a little different from Konbu or Katsuo is that you can enjoy eating the shiitake itself after making dashi. From one shiitake, you can enjoy both the taste of the fruit body and its dashi.
Dried Shiitake. There are 2 general types of shiitake – “Donko” and “Koshin”. They are harvested in different timings. Donko are picked before the caps open 70 percent. The caps are closed, thick and round. On the other hand, Koshin is harvested after the caps open more than 70 percent. Its cap is thinner and entirely flat because it is open.
Both of Donko and Koshin are mainly produced in Oita Prefecture of Kyushu, which is known as the main producer of dried shiitake.
I would like to talk about how to grow shiitake. There are two ways; one is log cultivation method (left in the below picture) that uses sawtooth oak or quercus serrata logs. The other is fungal bed cultivation method (right in the below picture), which grow mushrooms in the artificial environment. The mushrooms cultivated in those two methods are different in years of harvest life and aroma.
Obviously, log-cultivated shiitake smell better. It is worth the time and effort. However, log-based shiitake farms are having a problem of insufficient human resources to carry on the production. A national campaign to promote log-cultivated shiitake is underway.
Having been used for “Shojin Ryori”,buddhist vegetarian dishes since hundreds years ago, shiitake is so precious and essential for our traditional food culture. The umami of shiitake must be passed down to the younger generations.
Thinking of simmered dish using rehydrated dried shiitake, it made My stomach growl!