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Shiitake Mushrooms and its Medicinal Properties

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Chinese Mushroom - Also called Shiitake mushroom, Chinese black mushroom and forest mushroom (not to be confused with European dried mushrooms), these are the most widely used mushrooms in Chinese cooking and are grown chiefly in China and Japan . Their fleshy caps are dense, and their stems are tough yet can be used for flavoring before being discarded. Shiitakes can easily replace other mushrooms in recipes. They have a pleasant flavor and absorb the taste of other ingredients. There are so many different ways to cook shiitake mushrooms. You can make it taste strong or mild, cook it with meat or vegetable, make a soup or a dish to go with rice.

There are basically two types of Shiitake mushrooms: Fragrant and Premium.

Chinese mushrooms

Fragrant shitake mushrooms are grown on chestnut tree, chestnut-leaf oak, big leaf oak, maple and other woody plants. The strong flavor of shiitake mushrooms exceeds that of all other vegetables. That is why it is called "fragrant". Fragrant shiitake mushrooms are mild in nature. They stimulate the appetite, clear the Coldness, benefit the digestive system and expel phlegm. Shiitake mushrooms produce Wind and hence are not suitable for those suffering from longed skin itch. In Asian cultures, they are thought to have numerous medicinal properties and are used to treat problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol

level, flu, cancer, stomach ulcers, diabetes, anemia, obesity, and gallstones. Fragrant shiitake mushrooms help the cancer patients by strengthening their immune system. Stewed sea cucumber with fragrant shitake mushroom is a famous dish. Adding sliced fragrant shiitake mushroom to congee makes it tastes better.

Premium Shiitake Mushrooms

Premium shiitake mushrooms have thicker flesh than regular ones. The beautiful cracking pattern on the cap is the result of cold or dry weather in the course of growing. Premium shiitake mushrooms taste sweet and are mild in nature. They benefit the "Qi" (vital energy), improve blood circulation, expel phlegm and reduce blood cholesterol level. High in protein and low in fat, they also contain much vitamin B2, which makes them effective in healing dry skin and oral herpes. The polysaccharides in premium shiitake mushrooms improve the immune system and suppress the spread of cancer cells. Boil 10 premium shiitake mushrooms in 10 bowls of water. Switch to low heat and simmer to reduce down to 2 bowls. This mushrooms soup burns fat and reduces cholesterol. Drinking plain mushroom soup (boil mushrooms in water) with an empty stomach helps loss weight.

Chinese mushrooms are often sold dried and will keep for up to a year. For dried Shitake mushrooms, rinse well, then soak in hot water for at least 30 minutes. The soaking water can be strained and used to add flavor to a stock or sauce. Cut off the stem before using.

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Last Modified: 11/28/11.