Shimeji mushrooms are a group of mushroom varieties characterized by long stems and tight concave caps. There are over 20 species of shimeji mushrooms, including enoki and pioppino. This post is about the buna-shimeji, which is also called the beech mushroom and the brown clamshell mushroom.Buna-shimeji grow in a cluster and have pale stems that are about a quarter of an inch thick and between two to three inches long. The tight caps are light brown in color and have tiny gills underneath. They should be eaten cooked and not raw; they have a bitter taste and are difficult to digest when raw. They can be used in stir fries, rice bowls, soups, stews, and sauces. Both cap and stalk are edible. Buna-shimeji are crisp in texture and can hold up to being cooked at high temperatures or slow roasted at a low temperature.
Select mushrooms that are firm and have no blemishes or bruising. When storing, keep the mushrooms refrigerated and eat within 10 days of storage. When preparing, cut off the base of the cluster so each mushroom is individually cut at the stem. Wash or brush lightly if necessary to remove any dirt particles and then prepare by cooking.
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(Image: Kathryn Hill)