Shimeji (or Hon Shimeji or Brown Beech Mushrooms) are the tiny capped, long stemmed species that can be found in many Asian soups or as a garnish. Shimeji mushrooms have piquant, umami aromas, sharp flavor when fresh, mild and nutty when cooked and a firm chewy texture that softens with cooking.
Uncooked Shimeji are not only bitter in taste but their nutritional components are rendered useless to the human body as it can only assimilate cooked Shimeji mushrooms. An unpublished report by the National Cancer Institute of Japan indicates Shimeji mushrooms have medicinally active ingredients that provide anti-tumor benefits.
Be sure and pay close attention to this one as Shimeji contains beta-glucans. According to the National Cancer Institute of Japan this compound is a successful remedy for retarding and destroying growing tumors. Shimeji mushrooms can also help diabetes, asthma and certain allergies by enhancing the immune system and boosting its healing capabilities.
Shimeji are best prepared cooked as their raw flavor tends to be unpalatably strong. The Shimeji will hold its shape well when cooked and may be roasted, steamed, sautéed and pickled. Add to soups, stir-frys, omelettes and noodle dishes. Pair with seafood, citrus, grilled meats, white wine and fresh herbs.