7 Popular Asian Mushroom Types

Mushrooms are always my favorite vegetables because of the depth, earthy flavor and nutritional value they add to the dishes. Due to differences in climate and soil conditions, each region in the world has its own distinctive types of mushrooms, all of which are very fragrant, delicious, and nutritious. In this article, let’s explore seven popular Asian mushroom types, exploring their culinary uses, nutritional benefits, and cultural significance.

Oyster Mushroom

asian mushroom types oyster mushroom

Scientifically known as Pleurotus ostreatus, oyster mushroom is perhaps one of the most versatile and widely used mushrooms in Asian cooking. Named for their resemblance to oysters, these mushrooms feature a delicate texture and mild, slightly sweet flavor. With their high protein content and low-calorie count, oyster mushrooms are not only delicious but also nutritious, making them a popular choice for health-conscious cooks.

There are three common varieties of oyster mushroom, based on the color: white, light grey and dark grey oyster mushroom. The cap of white oyster mushroom is thinner than the gray ones. In my opinion, the flavor of them is not too much different from each other. However, the stem of grey mushroom is thick, soft when eaten, and less chewy than the other white one. The nutritional value of white oyster mushrooms is also lower than that of gray oyster mushrooms.

Regardless of color, oyster mushrooms are versatile, finding their way into stir-fries, soups, and especially vegan meat substitutes due to their meaty texture when cooked. I like to incorporate oyster mushroom into hotpot or porridge the most.

King Oyster Mushroom

asian mushroom types king oyster mushroom

This is one of my most favorite Asian mushroom type thanks to its firm, meaty texture. Unlike other mushroom varieties, the king oyster mushroom features thick stems and small caps, making them perfect for grilling, roasting, or braising. They have a unique ability to absorb flavors, making them a favorite in savory dishes such as stews and braised dishes. Rich in vitamins and minerals, including potassium, phosphorus, and vitamin B, king oyster mushrooms offer a nutritious addition to any meal.

King oyster mushroom is my best option to replace meat in vegan recipes, such as Bun Rieu Chay. Not only the nutrition value is similar, but also the texture and the natural umami flavor makes it perfect as a substitute. That’s why Asian people cook mushrooms using similar methods as they do with meat, such as frying and grilling. I enjoyed some grilled king oyster mushrooms at a night market in Taipei, Taiwan, and it was amazing!

Wood Ear Mushroom

Also known as cloud ear or black fungus, wood ear mushroom belongs to the species Auricularia auricula-judae. These mushrooms have crunchy texture and subtle earthy flavor. Rich in iron and antioxidants, they are also valued for their potential health benefits, including immune support and cardiovascular health.

There are two common types of wood ear mushrooms, white and brown-black, with the brown-black variety being more widely used. This type of mushroom is often sold in dried form for easier preservation, so before use, we need to hydrate them in 10-15 minutes by soaking in warm water. You can buy whole dried wood ear mushrooms or pre-sliced ones.

asian mushroom types wood ear mushroom
Pre-sliced wood ear mushroom

This is one of the most popular mushrooms used in Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine. In my family, wood ear mushroom is a must-have food item because there are many recipes with it, such as fried spring rolls, fried sticky rice, bitter melon soup, egg loaf, etc.

Shiitake Mushroom

Among Asian mushroom types, shiitake mushroom is possibly the most popular worldwide, with a rich, natural sweet flavor and meaty texture. Also usually being sold in fried form like wood ear mushroom, it’s an essential ingredient in every Asian kitchen. From simmering broth to making stir-fried dishes, shiitake mushroom contributes a deep, wonderful umami flavor to the dish. Moreover, its texture is so interesting, which is chewy like meat.

Beyond their culinary uses, shiitake mushrooms are believed to have various health benefits, including immune support, cholesterol reduction, and anti-inflammatory properties. They are also a good source of B vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Shimeji Mushroom

asian mushroom types shiimeji mushroom

Shimeji mushrooms come in different varieties, including white and brown, and belong to the species Hypsizygus tessellatus (beech mushrooms) or Lyophyllum shimeji (hon-shimeji). They has nutty flavor and slightly firm texture, making them a popular choice in Japanese cuisine. Often used in hot pots, soups, and stir-fries, shimeji mushrooms add depth and umami to dishes, enhancing their overall flavor profile. Rich in protein and fiber, shimeji mushrooms offer both nutritional value and culinary value.

vegan-hot-pot-broth
Vegan hotpot enjoyed with white shiimeji mushroom

Enoki Mushroom

asian mushroom types enoki mushroom

This mushroom impresses me by their long, thin stems and tiny caps in white color. With a mild flavor and a crunchy, chewy texture, enoki mushroom is one of the favorite Asian mushroom types of many. Commonly used in soups, hot pots, stir-fries, and deep fries, enoki mushroom can bring to you a unique culinary experience. My top dishes with enoki mushroom are hot pots and deep fries.

Enoki mushrooms are also low in calories and fat, making them a healthy choice for those watching their weight.

Straw Mushroom

asian mushroom types straw mushroom

They are small, umbrella-shaped mushrooms with a mild, earthy flavor and tender texture. Native in Southeast Asia, straw mushroom is present in plenty of daily recipes, mainly stir-fries and soups. They are also a good source of vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, potassium, and selenium.

In my home country Vietnam, straw mushroom and wood eat mushroom are the two most popular mushroom varieties. My top-of-mind dish with them is straw mushroom soup with dill and tofu.

So, the next time you’re browsing the produce aisle, consider adding some of these delightful fungi to your basket for a taste of Asia’s rich culinary heritage.

1 Comment

  1. I want to say that this post is nice written and come with interesting infos. Thanks

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