Shiitake mushrooms add great flavor to your recipes with their robust and earthy taste and meaty texture. You can use them fresh or go for dried shiitakes; in either case, shiitakes boost the nutritional value of food.
However, since they are primarily available in the fall and spring seasons, you may not find them at other times of the year.
When looking for a substitution for shiitake mushrooms, you can look for other alternatives similar to shiitake in taste and nutrition.
This way, no matter the season, you can always fill your recipe with your favorite ingredients, flavor, and nutrition.
So, let’s jump right into the topic and explore more about shiitake mushrooms, their health benefits, and the seven best fresh shiitake mushroom substitutes for dried!
Health Benefits of Shiitake Mushroom
The world is obsessed with mushrooms, and why not? Adding mushrooms to your diet can significantly affect your health as they are a great alternative to meat and are packed with nutrients.
As for shiitake mushrooms, they are one of the most popular mushroom types all across the world and give you the following health benefits:
1. Keep Your Heart Healthy
Not just the taste, but shiitake mushrooms are also great when it comes to your heart health. They keep the heart condition regular and promote low cholesterol levels, which are essential for wholesome life.
The three compounds in shiitake mushrooms known for their significant health benefits are
- Eritadenine: it lowers the cholesterol level and keeps it balanced
- Sterols: it aids in the prevention of cholesterol over-absorption in the body
- Beta-glucans: it also improves cholesterol levels and prevents infection growth
2. Boost Immune System
As beta-glucans in shiitake mushrooms help prevent microbes and infections in the body, eating shiitake mushrooms every day can significantly boost your immune system.
Also, shiitake mushrooms have polysaccharides that keep the cell wall safe from damage and play a key role in white blood cell production.
Especially for children and older people with a weaker immune system, shiitake mushrooms can help strengthen their immunity. Thus, shiitake mushrooms are also known to have anti-inflammatory properties.
3. Stronger Your Bones
Though shiitake mushrooms are full of protein and minerals essential for the body, they are also rich in vitamin D. They help strengthen bones and increase bone density.
Also, the good thing is that it is not the Vit D3 that we get from shiitake mushrooms, but vitamin D2, which also helps balance the blood levels.
All in all, everyone who doesn’t get much exposure to the sunlight should add shiitake mushrooms to their diet as they are a natural vitamin D plant source.
4. Contain Anti-Cancer Properties
Not everyone suffers from cancer, but there is nothing wrong with ingesting a supportive diet. Shiitake mushrooms, in this regard, are an excellent food to fight harmful pathogens in the body.
They are full of polysaccharides and lentinan, preventing the growth and spread of tumors in the body.
5. Promote Better Digestion
Whether you are sick from constipation, bloating, or an upset stomach, shiitake mushrooms are a great way to aid digestion. Since they have antibacterial properties, consuming shiitake mushrooms helps regulate the bacterial balance in your digestive system.
Also, ingesting shiitake mushrooms promotes better absorption of iron, calcium, and other nutrients in the gut to improve bad digestion.
6. Regulate Blood Pressure
Surprisingly, the Eritadenine in shiitake mushrooms can reduce high blood pressure and saves you from chronic diseases like heart failure, seizures, and atherosclerosis.
It also has the property to minimize sudden blood vessel contraction, protecting the body cells from dying of oxygen deprivation. People who live in cold areas or suffer from extreme stress should consider shiitake mushrooms an easy source to regulate their pressure.
Best Substitution of Fresh Shiitake Mushrooms For Dried
Shiitake mushrooms, no doubt, are an excellent food to boost your health. They strengthen the bones and the immune system, regulate blood pressure and heart rate, aid in digestion, and even fight off microbes in the body.
However, when you cannot find any shiitake mushroom in your kitchen pantry, know that it is time to use substitute food.
So, here are some of the best shiitake mushroom substitutes that you can consider that are similar in taste and nutrition to shiitake mushrooms. Also, whether you use fresh or dried mushrooms, these substitutes will do the job!
1. Portobello Mushrooms
If shiitake mushrooms are not in the meal today, your best substitute should be portobello mushrooms. They are almost similar to shiitake mushrooms in terms of nutrition; however, the size does differ.
Portobello mushrooms are larger, have a darker color, and have a meaty texture when used in cooking. Since they are big mushrooms, you may consider using slightly less quantity than what a recipe requires for shiitake mushrooms.
Also, portobello mushrooms, unlike the smokiness of shiitake mushrooms, are meaty, which gives them a perfect place in steaks or hamburgers. What you should remember about portobello mushrooms is that rinsing them in water makes them soggy.
Thus, always use a clean, damp cloth or towel to remove any dirt. At the same time, since water is not being used, it is essential to clean portobello mushrooms properly.
Portobello mushrooms are high in potassium, just like shiitake mushrooms. It means no irregular heartbeat or blood pressure. They also come with selenium, a compound full of antioxidant properties.
It strengthens the body’s immune system against stomach, skin, and lung issues, while the copper in portobello mushrooms prevents iron deficiency.
Lastly, if you prefer dishes with nice colors, you should consider removing the gill of portobello mushrooms. Unlike shiitake mushrooms with a light gill, portobello mushrooms come with a darker gill that can give your recipe a darker, even unattractive look.
2. Porcini Mushrooms
If you are looking for a shiitake substitute but don’t want to incorporate big, meaty mushrooms in your recipe, your go-to option should be porcini mushrooms.
These mushrooms have many names, and you may find them with different labels in your grocery store like boletus edulis, steinpilz, cep, or penny bun mushrooms.
Porcini are rich in nutrition and give your cooking a similar texture to shiitake mushrooms. Their mild, nutty undertones go well with their meaty texture and intense flavor, which is why they are well used in recipes like brown sauces or grilled meat.
Another essential thing to remember for porcini mushrooms is that they are frequently mistaken for shiitake mushrooms. However, if you plan to use porcini in your recipes, you should know its intense earthy taste and use less or more seasoning to balance the flavor.
Also, porcini usually have an earthy odor which indicates their freshness; if you suspect they don’t smell like dirt, it’s better not to use them. And since porcini mushrooms are more expensive than shiitake, you should store them properly.
If you don’t live in a cold area, place your porcini in the fridge and never use a plastic bag as it can cause fungus and worms in the mushrooms.
Porcini have essential nutrients and minerals like vitamin B, potassium, copper, selenium, zinc, and copper. Thus, they are an excellent food to prevent constipation, digestion issues and strengthen immunity against pathogens and microbes.
3. Oyster Mushrooms
Oyster mushrooms are not just another substitute for shiitake mushrooms. They are one of the most widely grown mushrooms worldwide because of their flavor, shape, and nutritional value. Some of the other names of oyster mushrooms are tree oyster and pearl oyster mushrooms.
As for the texture, oyster mushrooms are more like seafood and come in various forms and colors. An oyster mushroom typically ranges from white, cream, yellowish to reddish-brown, and even darker shades.
However, if you like how shiitake mushrooms taste, you should consider adding more flavor to oyster mushrooms because of their mild, subtle flavor.
Incorporating oyster mushrooms into your diet can have positive effects on your body. They regulate the heartbeat and help to prevent heart problems. oyster mushrooms are also full of nutrients to promote a healthy and strong immune system.
Oyster mushrooms also have antioxidant and antibacterial properties, which makes an excellent food to regulate blood sugar in the body, prevent body cells from free radicals, and have anti-cancer effects.
Shiitake mushrooms can be washed before cooking; oyster mushrooms should be cleaned with a damp cloth. You can also rinse them with water but be careful not to let the water flow through them longer.
Also, you should only rinse oyster mushrooms if they are more in quantity. Otherwise, they can become soggy and may ruin the entire taste of the recipe, given the fact they already have a mild flavor.
4. White Button Mushrooms
If you like portobellos, then you’ll love white button mushrooms. They are a younger version of portobellos but are incredibly delicious as baby mushrooms.
White button mushrooms have many names, from as easy as table mushrooms, cultivated mushrooms, or white mushrooms to as tricky as champignon de Paris. However, they are rich in nutrition and a great alternative when you can’t find any shiitake for your recipe.
Also, since portobellos are expensive, white buttons, too, come at a price. They have a mild, subtle flavor and are primarily used for side recipes like salads or sauces. However, you can also use them for heavy cooking like grilling or just saute them to prepare your meal.
Another thing to remember when cooking white button mushrooms is that they are baby mushrooms. They are round in shape and no more than three inches in size.
It means they are much smaller than both shiitake and portobellos and would require double in quantity if used instead of shiitake.
The best thing about white button mushrooms is that they are diet-friendly. Those who are conscious about their dietary intake can go for white button mushrooms as they have low calories compared to other mushroom types.
At the same time, you won’t get a cut of nutrition since button mushrooms are abundant in protein and have various health benefits. Their bioactive chemicals lower cholesterol, promote gut health, and fight tumors.
5. Maitake Mushrooms
If you cannot find maitake mushrooms in your grocery store, chances are you are not looking with the correct name. They are called maitake mushrooms but have various other names: Hongo maitake, Grifola, Grifola frondosa, dancing mushroom, and they are also known as King of Mushrooms. Nevertheless, they are a great substitute for shiitake mushrooms.
Maitake mushrooms are usually of lighter color, which ranges from tan brown to light grey. They have a strong flavor and add a pepper-like taste to the recipe, which is why they are often cooked with salts to balance the flavor.
Maitake mushrooms also have various health benefits as they are rich in antioxidants. Those who suffer from cardiovascular problems should add maitake mushrooms to their daily diet. The beta-glucan in them prevents heart failure and lowers high cholesterol levels.
Furthermore, eating maitake mushrooms promotes better arterial functioning in the body and strengthens immunity.
Since maitake mushrooms have a strong, peppery taste, they are most suited for pizzas, pasta, soups, and omelettes. You can also use them with a bit of stir-fry or add them to your salad recipes.
The only important thing to remember is not to use seasoning at once; instead, you should slowly balance the flavors. Also, if you like a mild taste, better cut short on additional spices, especially chili and pepper.
6. Crimini Mushrooms
Crimini Mushrooms are brown in color and range between portobello and white button mushrooms. They are like the middle version of baby mushrooms and adult portobellos but a fantastic alternative to shiitake. They can give your recipes a great taste with an earthy flavor and slightly delicate texture.
Many people like to eat their crimini raw, but if you suffer from health problems like weaker immunity, you should always cook your crimini mushrooms.
Also, crimini contains a small amount of gyromitrin which can be toxic to the digestive system. However, you can always eliminate any risks by heating them first or using them in entire recipes.
Also, when cooking crimini mushrooms, it is up to you whether or not to use their stems. Since they are still growing to become portobellos, their stems are tender and thus edible. If you add them to your recipes, make sure to trim the stems from the end to remove the toxic parts.
What else? Crimini mushrooms have anti-cancer properties and are known to work best against lung and breast tumors. They are also great for promoting heart health, aiding digestion, and protecting the body against Metabolic Syndrome.
It is also safe for diet-conscious people to eat crimini; they are deficient in calories and may aid in weight loss.
Enough of the mushrooms; if you are looking for a shiitake mushroom substitute, but out of the box, you should consider tempeh: a hard soy-based food but rich in nutty taste.
Tempeh is an excellent ingredient to add when you run out of mushrooms, but it can also become your go-to food when preparing a versatile meal.
Because of its strong flavor, tempeh can be used as a side food or in the recipe. It absorbs the tastes of other ingredients, which is why it is widely used in chilis, tacos, stews, and sandwiches.
However, the flavor is not the only thing tempeh offers; it also gives your body some great health benefits. Like the shiitake rich in nutrition to boost heart health and immunity, tempeh is a superfood to keep your heart healthy.
It also has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects, which reduce cholesterol levels and strengthen bones.
Other than that, tempeh is an excellent food for women suffering from menopause. Adding tempeh to your diet can also reduce the risks of strokes, osteoporosis, and sudden flashes from menopause. Besides boosting the immune system, it also promotes insulin resistance and regulates blood pressure.
Also, you should cook tempeh but make sure not to make it bitter. The best way is to fill the saucepan with 1-2 inches of water and steam temps from both sides for 15-20 minutes.
If you prefer store-bought tempeh, make sure it is pre-cooked/steamed for at least 20 minutes before adding it to your recipes.
Lastly, tempeh is typically safe to eat, but since it contains a large amount of soy, you should avoid adding it to your diet if you are allergic to soy-based products. With all the rich nutrients and nutty taste, it can be an excellent substitute for shiitake mushrooms.
Shiitake mushrooms are worldwide popular because they are both full of flavor and health benefits. You can use them in fresh or dried form, stir-fry them or add them to your recipes. However, shiitakes are not always available, which is not a problem as you can use other equally healthy and flavorsome substitutes.
The best shiitake mushroom substitutes are portobello, porcini, oyster, white button, maitake, and crimini mushrooms. If you don’t want to use any mushrooms, you can always go for tempeh, a soy-based food but a great alternative to shiitake mushrooms.