In Eastern and Western herbal medicine, maitake mushrooms have been considered medicinal mushrooms.
Even today, it is still used for its supposed anti-cancer properties.
In addition, some studies show maitake as beneficial to diabetes management and having cholesterol-lowering properties.
The flavor of maitake mushrooms is earthy, meaty, and nutty.
This should be a good enough indication of why it has been considered a delicacy for centuries.
Maitake is used in many Asian dishes, especially soups.
They have also been incorporated into Western foods to substitute for meat.
However, maitake mushrooms can be quite hard to come by in today’s market.
This is why the following are some of the best substitutes you can find for maitake mushrooms.
What is Maitake Mushroom?
Maitake Mushroom, scientific name Grifola frondosa, is a mushroom from Japan and China, where it has long been used in Chinese medicine.
The name Maitake means “dancing mushroom” because of its appearance when viewed under the sunlight.
It grows large on dead or dying trees, making Grifola frondosa difficult to cultivate – this contributes to why maitake mushrooms are found in nature.
Maitake mushrooms are very versatile when it comes to cooking because of how they have a slightly chewy yet tender texture that is appreciated in numerous dishes.
In terms of flavor, maitake mushrooms can be described as nutty and earthy with a touch of sweetness.
They have a very distinct taste that may not be for everyone’s palate because it is very strong and intense in some cases.
Maitake mushrooms provide an interesting and unique texture in the mouth and aren’t rubbery like many other types of mushrooms.
The 5 Best Substitutes for Maitake Mushrooms
If you want to substitute maitake mushrooms for another ingredient, consider one of these five alternatives.
1 – Shiitake Mushrooms
In terms of texture, shiitakes are springier than maitakes.
Shiitakes also have a stronger flavor than maitake mushrooms, which is why they’re so popular in many dishes.
These can be cooked in different ways to yield various tastes – they may be added raw to salads or cooked in soups or sauces.
Shiitake mushrooms are great for both cold and hot dishes.
They have a nutty flavor that mixes well with other meats, vegetables, and pasta.
When cooked with certain spices such as garlic, thyme, parsley, and pepper, they can taste more flavorful than maitake mushrooms.
The best thing about these mushrooms is that, because they’re widely available in grocery stores and Asian markets, they’re easy to find.
2 – Portobello Mushrooms
Portobello mushrooms are rather meaty with a thick texture often used as a substitute for steak or even hamburger patties.
These are great for grilling and have a wonderful taste that goes well with marinades.
In terms of texture, portobello mushrooms are slightly chewier than maitake but not as much as shitake mushrooms.
In addition to being used for sandwiches, these mushrooms can also be baked or grilled whole and stuffed with different ingredients.
They’re rich in flavor but not too dominating, which is why they’re often mixed with lighter flavors.
3 – Chanterelles
Chanterelles are the second priciest mushroom professionally grown in France.
They are also cultivated in Canada, Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.
It’s difficult to cultivate chanterelle mushrooms, and they’re also hard to find.
Chanterelles can be found either fresh or dried and are available year-round.
In terms of flavor, chanterelle mushrooms have a delicate but sweet taste that is often versatile enough to be added to lots of recipes for an interesting twist.
Some dishes include pasta, risotto, and mushroom soup.
These mushrooms are grown in various soils and climates, which is why they have such a unique flavor.
4 – Crimini Mushrooms
Criminis are one of the most popular types of mushrooms used worldwide.
They have a very distinct color darker than common white button mushrooms but lighter than portobellos.
In addition, the edges of criminis are often lighter than the rest of them.
Crimini mushrooms have a porous texture that’s somewhat meaty and crisp with a nutty flavor comparable to maitake mushrooms.
These taste great in stews, soups, omelets, and casseroles.
They can also be grilled until they’re slightly browned and served whole.
One of the most popular criminis dishes is stuffed mushrooms, which can be prepared in many different ways.
5 – Oyster Mushrooms
Oyster mushrooms are often mistaken for shiitakes because of their similar appearance, but oyster mushrooms have a taste that’s less meaty and more subtle than shiitakes.
These are more of a delicacy used in salads, stir-fry dishes, and soups.
These mushrooms have a soft velvety texture that’s light on the palate with just enough flavor to be enjoyed without overpowering ingredients in other recipes.
Most of these mushrooms are white, but they may be tinted slightly yellow or grey.
Oyster mushrooms can be purchased either fresh or dried and still maintain most of their amazing flavor.
These are also considered one of the least allergenic types of mushroom.
Maitake mushrooms were once popular in Asian and European cooking.
Still, these mushrooms can now be found in most grocery stores and Asian markets because of their recent surge in popularity.
Although maitake mushrooms are still considered a delicacy, they’re not as difficult to find as some of the other mushrooms on this list.
However, suppose you have trouble finding maitake mushrooms in your area or don’t feel like cooking with them.
In that case, there’s a wide variety of mushroom substitutes that taste similar and will add a unique flavor to your next recipe.