I have been writing about ingrediants for Japanese stock and today is the last of that series.

椎茸(しいたけ/shiitake) is one of the most popular mushrooms in Japan and we can get fresh ones all year round in supermarkets these days but ancient people preserved them by drying them. And the fantastic thing about that is 椎茸の戻し汁(しいたけのもどしじる – the water to soak dried shiitake in before cooking) can be used as a great vegetarian/vegan stock!
It’s probably the best to soak dried shiitake over night but when I’m in a hurry, I put them in water and microwave them. It’s easy and quick. I like using shiitake stock for 茶碗蒸し(ちゃわんむし/chawan_mushi) – savoury steamed egg custard with various ingredients.
Reconstituted shiitake is not the same as fresh ones, so I usually use them in a simmered dish like soy pork. I also like to use them as a garnish for ちらし寿司(ちらしずし/chirashi_zushi) – scattered sushi (the bottom half of the photo) after stewing them with soy sauce and mirin for a while.

I like fresh shiitake better. They can be cooked in many different ways, like sautéing with butter, deep-frying in tempura, etc. but my most successful dish among Western people is to stuff them with minced meat and crumb-fry them altogether. You can have a Western meatball with an Eastern mushroom in one go!

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