Healing Food Series - Supper Shiitake
Whether you are a mushroom lover, or whether you avoid your average mushrooms like the plague (like me), the shiitake mushrooms, however, are worth including in your diet and lifestyle due to their fantastic healing properties and beneficial health effects.
It is important to note that, just like most other foods, the health benefits can be dependent on personal condition, what may be healing for some may be catastrophically un-beneficial to others.
In the case of mushrooms in general, they tend to be from the nightshades (Solanaceae) family, a family of food plants (and non-edible plants) that are known to slow down the healing process of the body, amongst other things. I explain in further depth about the nightshade family and all the edible vegetables that are included in it, in the forthcoming ‘Deadly Nightshades…really? AND which ones are they?’ post.
However, with Shitake mushrooms, the effect is quite the opposite, it supports healing in the body if used in the right way and in the correct circumstance, having been long used traditionally for healing in the East.
The benefits of this amazing healing fungi are, to say the least, quite noteworthy.
So lets dive in.
USED AS FOOD AND MEDICINE
Shiitake Mushrooms have been a culinary and medicinal staple in the East for aeons and now are being grown around the world, as we recognise its wonderful qualities.
They have been used and continue to be used as a healing tool in Oriental & Chinese Medicine.
GOOD SOURCE OF PROTEIN
Shiitakes are hight in protein, which makes them a lovely meat meal substitute. They are high in mineral, B vitamins and C vitamins. They are also a lovely source of calcium and provide quite a bit of need digestive fibre.
In Oriental medicine, shiitake tea is used to lower or reduce fever. In addition, they are considered to be supportive of relaxing a tense or contracted condition. Known as cooling to the body and lovely in the hot summer months.
Shitake can support the body against heart disease, scientifically proven to lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol.
HELPS WITH WEIGHT-LOSS
Shiitakes help to reduce excess salt in the body and help to detox animal fat, supporting in weight-loss and detoxification. In Oriental/Chinese medicine they are believed to melt unneeded fat from the body. This is also shown in the this mushroom's ability to reduce cholesterol and it aids in liver detoxification.
Not a bad effect for a little fungi huh?
Lastly, it is also important to mention that medical studies have indicated Shitake mushrooms to have an anti-tumour effect, helping to fight cancer. Some studies have documented Shitake destroying and preventing the proliferation of tumour cells.
In Japan shiitakes are used as a medicinal remedy for patients undergoing conventional cancer treatment to extend survival and for improvement of patients quality of life.
What a beautiful medical food, don’t you think?
You can find usually both dried and fresh Shitake, with the dried providing a more balanced and deeper medicinal effect usually. The Donkon variety is thought to be the strongest (best quality) variety.
HOW TO COOK THEM
They can be utilised in a variety of ways. A few of the ways can be:
Boiled ‘nishimi style’
Or sautéed as a side dish
As a stock base for Kombu broth, a delicious, balanced, health promoting broth.
Or as a stock to clear soups.
Traditionally also added in slices to miso soups
And can also be added to various Grains, Beans, Sea-vegetable and Vegetable dishes.
Also delicious as its own dish, slighted and sautéed, cooked with onions as a glazed sauce for Cauliflower Mash.
Shitake Kuzu Gravy to serve with Mashed Millet-Cauliflower
A lovely adaptation to the common gravy and mashed potatoes.
Makes 4 servings
For the gravy
1 large onion, diced.
2 tbsp of sesame seed oil (or less if you prefer. You can also cook with coconut oil to give a buttery flavour).
3-4 dried shiitake mushrooms, sliced.
2 cups of water (for soaking the dried mushrooms)
2-3 tablespoons of kuzu dissolved in water, 4-6 tablespoon of water (eg. 2tbsp of kuzu/4 tbsp of water)
1-2 tablespoon of Soya Sauce (or to taste).
1 tbsp of chopped parsley (for garnish)
* Variation: can add chopped garlic and chopped ginger to the onions and sauté them together. Providing a stronger flavour, for a party or special occasion.
To make the gravy
In a small bowl, soak the shiitake in the water for 30 mins.
Chop/slice the soaked mushrooms. Keep the soaking water to use in the gravy.
Chop the onions into diced pieces.
Heat the saucepan or frying pan (skillet) and add the sesame seed oil. (make sure to not overheat it.)
Then sauté the onions until slightly golden/brown
Then add the sliced mushrooms and sauté for about 2 minutes over medium heat.
Add the soaking water and let it simmer for about 5 minutes
Lower the heat (or take it off the heat for a second while you add the kuzu) and add the dissolved kuzu and let it cook in low heat, stirring constantly. Add soya sauce for flavour, Continue until gravy has become thick and clear in colour (rather than the cloudy white-ish complexity that it had) or until it comes to almost a boil. IMPORTANT: Don’t let it come completely to a boil, as it then will loose its thick quality.
Add the chopped parsley as a garnish on top and serve with the Millet-Cauliflower mash.
All ingredients are encouraged to be organic and form a good quality source.
For thinker gravy just use more kuzu, for lighter gravy add more water.
Both Kuzu and Shiitake have healing properties, for shiitake the long list is presented above. Kuzu is very useful for soothing the stomach and intestines as well as strengthening to the body and the digestive system. More on the amazing healing properties of Kuzu in another post.
Makes 6 Servings
For the Mashed Millet-Cauliflower
1 cup of millet
1 whole head of cauliflower, chopped into small 1-inch pieces
4 cups of spring water
1 tsp of sea salt (or a normal large pinch)
To make the Mash
Soak the millet
Chop cauliflower into small 1-inch pieces
Rinse the millet and place it in a large saucepan with the water
Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 50 minutes. OR pressure cook for 40 minutes.
When 35 minutes in, add the chopped cauliflower and pinch of salt and let it cook for the remaining 15 minutes. (if pressure cooking - When 30 minutes in, add the chopped cauliflower and pinch of salt and let it cook (without pressure) for the remaining 10-15 minutes.
Once fully cooked, place it in a food processor or mash it by hand, and blend it until the consistency is similar to a mashed potato. Or to taste.
Serve it with Shiitake Kuzu Gravy on top and parley as a garnish
You can adjust the consistency of the mash by adding more or less water.
Water is recommended to be either spring water or high quality filtered water.
Always, where ever possible, use organic ingredients, and high quality sourced ingredients.
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