Thanks to their mild nutty flavor, Shimeji mushrooms are a popular mushroom in Asian countries as well as internationally. In Japan, many recipes call for shimeji mushrooms as they have a umami taste. Since shimeji mushrooms grow on deciduous trees, primarily beech trees, two species of shimeji are also called brown beech mushrooms and white beech mushrooms.
Shimeji mushrooms, which are particularly popular in Japan, do not usually need to be peeled or washed before they are prepared. They are often used in small quantities to enhance the taste, but are also the main ingredient in many mushroom and wok dishes. Shimeji mushrooms have a mild nutty aroma and umami taste. However, when they are raw they have a slightly bitter flavor and it is best to cook them in such a way that they retain their texture but develop in flavor and become easier to digest.
In addition to stir-fried dishes, shimeji mushrooms are used as an ingredient for soups, stews, and sauces. They can also be cooked on their own, either sautéed whole or slow-roasted in a little butter or oil. Just make sure to cut off the lower part of the stems.1
In Japanese cuisine, shimeji mushrooms are found as a main ingredient in Nabemono, which are soups and stews typically served in autumn and winter, and in the rice dish Takikomi gohan.
Cultivated shimeji mushrooms are available year-round in larger supermarkets and well-stocked Asian stores. As with button mushrooms, shimeji mushrooms come in two varieties: white and brown. The name “shimeji” refers to several types of shimeji mushrooms, but all of the different types can be prepared in essentially the same way. Choose shimeji mushrooms that are dry and don’t have any spots.
Shimeji mushrooms can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. However, you shouldn’t store them for the maximum time as they taste best fresh. They should not be placed in an airtight container either, but should instead be allowed to breathe. Alternatively, they can be stored in the basement or in a cool storage room.
According to the EU Food Information Regulations, 100 grams of Shimeji covers over 30 % of the recommended daily intake of the vitamins pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), vitamin D, vitamin K and biotin (née vitamin B7, H). As do other mushrooms, shimeji mushrooms contain very little vitamin D2 but are rich in "ergocalciferolum", which can be transformed into vitamin D2 by UVB- and UVC-spectrum light. In other words, the vitamin D2 concentration of mushrooms depends on the conversion rate, which in turn depends on the UV spectrum, the moisture content of the mushrooms, and the amount of sunlight they receive.2
Shimeji mushrooms are rich in umami-tasting compounds such as guanylic acid, glutamic acid, and aspartic acid. In addition, 100 g of shimeji mushrooms covers about 40 % of the daily requirement for the micronutrient (trace element) copper. More detailed information can be found in the nutrient tables found below the recipe. However, it should be noted that the nutritional value of mushrooms varies greatly depending on the harvest and cultivation environment as well as the nutrients present there.
There are over 20 known shimeji species that are native to Northern Europe and Eastern Asia. Buna-Shimeji and Bunapi-Shimeji are relatively easy to cultivate and are available widely throughout Europe and the US.
From Wikipedia: Shimeji (Japanese language：シメジ, 占地) is a group of edible mushrooms native to East Asia, but also found in northern Europe. Hon-shimeji (Lyophyllum shimeji) is a mycorrhizal fungus and difficult to cultivate. Other species are saprotrophs, and buna-shimeji is now widely cultivated. Shimeji is rich in umami tasting compounds such as guanylic acid, glutamic acid, and aspartic acid.1
The name “shimeji” refers to how quickly these mushrooms multiply and is also a name for anime or manga characters (desktop buddies) that move around on your computer screen.