Mushrooms are a popular, healthy food that is often used in many dishes. Shiitake mushrooms have seen a meteoric rise in popularity because of their taste and health benefits. Unfortunately, if you cannot find them at your local grocery store, then what?
Fear not! There are plenty of substitutes for shiitake mushrooms available to you. You can use dried shiitakes or portabello mushrooms as a substitute for oyster, crimini, zucchini, eggplant, and tempeh which all offer similar flavor profiles with some distinct differences in texture. These substitutes will help you out of any culinary bind!
A History of Cooking with Mushrooms
Mushrooms are part of the fungi kingdom, which also includes yeasts, molds, and lichens. These types of mushrooms grow from either natural or artificial cultivation on agricultural land, so they can be harvested at any time during all four seasons.
It is thought that mushrooms were first used for food 2000 years ago by the Chinese and Indians in their diet, but have also been found among Mesopotamian ruins dating back to 4000 BC and are thought to have been used in cooking by humans in Asia and Europe.
Shiitake mushrooms, from the Lentinula genus (Honshimeji in Japan), come mostly from China and Japan. They are the most common type of mushrooms found in Asian cuisine, and they have long been thought to be important medicinal mushrooms.
Why are Shiitake Mushrooms so Popular?
Shiitake mushrooms are so popular because of their taste and health benefits. They have a more meaty texture, so they are great for adding to dishes like stir-fries and curries.
They also provide many health benefits including antioxidant effects that help prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease, immune-boosting properties that fight against bacteria such as the common cold or influenza virus, improved digestion from their prebiotic effect which feeds good gut.
Furthermore, they are also delicious and are popular among vegetarians and vegans as they add that meaty flavor and texture to recipes like spaghetti bolognese- without having any meat in.
Dried Shiitake Mushrooms
Dried shiitake mushrooms are a popular substitute for fresh shiitake mushrooms. They can be used similarly and have a rich, earthy flavor that pairs well with other vegetables or meats.
Dried shiitakes should not be rehydrated before using them, but they can be sliced and sautéed to bring out their flavor when cooking.
Here is one recipe that uses dried shiitakes – Shiitake Mushroom Stroganoff! Substituting dried shiitakes for fresh ones in the recipe will not effect the taste and still give you that delicious, smooth and creamy stroganoff taste.
A portabello mushroom is a large, cultivated variety of button mushrooms. They may be substituted for shiitake mushrooms in most dishes and are often used as an ingredient because they have the same meaty texture. However, it should be noted that they have a stronger flavor and are not as versatile in cooking.
One great recipe that uses the delicious portabello mushroom is Spinach and Feta Stuffed Portabello Mushrooms. Quick and easy to make and brilliant for a dinner party as they can be prepped hours or even the day before.
An oyster mushroom is also sometimes called the king of mushrooms because it has such rich, earthy flavors. They can be used similarly to shiitakes but should be cooked for longer periods or until their water content cooks off, so you don’t end up with mushy mushrooms.
The oyster mushroom is a versatile ingredient and pairs well in dishes like stir-fries, soups, vegetarian burgers, or meatballs as it will add that deep earthiness to your recipe.
One great recipe that uses the delicious oyster mushroom is T-Bone Steak with a mushroom and cognac cream sauce. Always a winner for entertaining guests.
A porcini mushroom is also sometimes called a Cep, and it’s part of the bolete family. The flavor profile resembles that of beef or chicken, so they are often used to replace meat in vegetarian recipes such as vegan tacos, vegan pastas, and even vegan burgers.
Porcini mushrooms originate from Europe, but grow all over the world. These mushrooms are often found on lawns after rainfalls because spores will travel long distances with water droplets. However, don’t eat the mushrooms off the lawn unless you really know what you are doing, and even then be very careful!
When frying up porcini mushrooms, I recommend frying them up in butter, garlic, and a little white wine. Delicious and a great accompaniment to everything from breakfast to dinner.
A Crimini mushroom is a type of mushroom that grows in clusters. It varies greatly in size, but is usually larger than button mushrooms and smaller than portabello mushrooms. They are also more delicate than other types of mushrooms and can be substituted for shiitakes without affecting the flavor or texture of the dish.
Crimini mushrooms originate from Europe.
Crimini Mushrooms pair well with flavorful dishes such as Beef Wellington with a Cognac sauce, Sweet Potato baked Ziti, and Crimini Mushroom Soup.
Serve the soup with a dash of sour cream, a sprinkling of fresh parsley, and fresh bread straight out of the oven!
The zucchini is a plant native to Mexico and Central America, but it has become popular in many cuisines around the world. The zucchini can be substituted for mushrooms in most dishes because it has the same meaty texture but doesn’t have as strong a taste.
The best time to use zucchini instead of shiitake is in pasta recipes. The texture and flavor profile works well and will not leave you feeling like your recipe is lacking without shiitake.
One way to use zucchini instead of shiitakes is by slicing them up, sautéing them, and adding some butter before tossing them with pasta. Adding meaty flavorings like Worcestershire sauce to the zucchini will embolden the flavor profile and give a veggie pasta a meaty kick!
There are two types of zucchini that are important to know about: green and yellow.
The eggplant is considered a member of the nightshade family and originates from India or China, where it was cultivated in ancient times. The eggplant can be substituted for shiitakes because they have similar flavors and textures when cooked but are different densities, so you will need to adjust cooking time accordingly.
One great recipe that uses eggplant in it is melanzane. Eggplant is fried in olive oil with onions, garlic, and peppers. Other ingredients such as canned tomatoes can be added to create a delicious marinara sauce that is then layered up and baked.
It is delicious, delightful, and easily prepared the day before guests arrive.
Tempeh is an Indonesian and Malaysian gift to the culinary world. It is a fermented and incredibly healthy ingredient to add to any dish. Tempeh has many health benefits. Tempeh is rich in protein which makes it a great meat substitute.
It is also rich in vitamins like vitamin B12 and has natural probiotics making it an excellent ingredient for digestive health.
Furthermore, studies have shown that tempeh can help reduce the risk of developing heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Tempeh is a brilliant alternative when you have a guest who is allergic to mushrooms or cannot eat mushrooms for any other reason.
Tempeh is a traditional dish made from cooked soybeans that were mixed with rice, then formed into a firm patty-like cake, and finally pressed into squares.
It was originally used as an efficient way of preserving beans, and it retains its form for days after cooking so that the food can be eaten at any time without fear of spoilage.
A great tempeh recipe idea is Tempeh-Veggie Potstickers. These are a wonderful way to incorporate tempeh into your diet and are easy to make! Make the potstickers by combining rice with seasoning in a bowl, adding chopped vegetables and tempeh, shaping into patties, and then cooking them in a pan. When they’re done, drizzle with sweet chili sauce or Sriracha!
Shiitake mushrooms are delicious, nutritious and easy to cook with. However, when you cannot find them at the store or for any other reason, there are plenty of substitutes that will work just as well in your recipes! The eggplant is a perfect substitute because it has similar textures and flavors – but be sure to adjust cooking time accordingly. Zucchini works too if you want something more on the lighter side – use this in pasta dishes!
Tempeh is another great option because it tastes like meat without actually being meat (plus all those health benefits!). We hope this article about shiitake mushroom substitutes has helped give you some ideas about what can replace shiitake mushrooms with, should they ever be tricky to get hold of!
Have you tried any of our recommendations? Let us know in the comments below!