In Asian cuisines, shiitake mushrooms are an integral part of many dishes.
The long-storing mushroom is chewy, meaty, and full of savory flavor.
Although they taste great alone or in dishes with other vegetables, sometimes there isn’t enough time to prepare them for your meal.
The first-ever cultivated mushroom, Shiitake’s long history and deep flavor have led some to call it the “king of mushrooms”.
Unfortunately, fresh Shiitake is not readily available at all supermarkets, and the mushrooms are known to be expensive.
To make matters worse, Shiitake is also difficult to preserve for later use.
When kept in the fridge, they dry out quickly or become slimy.
Fortunately, several alternatives can mimic the flavor of fresh shiitake mushrooms without all of these drawbacks.
In this article, we will explore five good substitutes for shiitake mushrooms.
What are Shiitake Mushrooms?
As the name suggests, Shiitake mushrooms are a type of mushroom native to East Asia.
They’re incredibly popular in the cuisine of countries like China and Japan.
They have become more well-known in recent years thanks to an increased interest in other types of Asian food (such as sushi), but they’ve been peasant staples for around 2,000 years.
The exact scientific name of the Shiitake mushroom is Lentinus edodes, and while these mushrooms are technically edible, they’re usually considered to be rather unpalatable (albeit nutritious) until aged.
When young, the Shiitake is moist and firm; when aged properly, it becomes dark and dry, resulting in a much stronger flavor.
There are several ways to cook Shiitake mushrooms, including frying, to boil, sauteing, and baking.
They’re especially tasty when dried – after all, the aging process creates complex flavors by allowing various chemical reactions to take place.
The mushroom will initially shrink in size as moisture evaporates out of it.
As time goes on, however, the texture becomes denser and chewier.
Aged Shiitake mushrooms are especially renowned for their superb umami flavor, and they’re often used as a meat substitute in vegetarian cooking because of the texture they develop over time.
The 5 Best Substitutes for Shiitake Mushrooms
If you’re looking to cook with Shiitake mushrooms but can’t find any, there are plenty of alternatives that you can use instead.
Here are the top five substitutes for this popular mushroom.
1 – King Oyster Mushrooms
This cultivar of oyster mushroom is meaty, juicy, and savory.
It has an earthier flavor than the white or pink cultivated oyster mushrooms, which makes it a great substitute for that “meaty” element in vegetarian dishes like vegan bolognese or vegan steak and potatoes.
The texture of King Oyster mushrooms is quite strong, making it a good choice for dishes with bold flavors.
The mushroom needs to be cooked carefully to bring out the best flavor.
In addition, it’s crucial to note that this type of mushroom has to be cooked well to maintain a meat-like consistency.
2 – Portobello Mushrooms
Also known as crimini mushrooms, portobellos are a great vegan alternative to many types of meat, including beef and mutton.
Their texture isn’t as firm as other types of mushrooms (like king oysters), but they stand up well against other strong flavors like garlic and soy sauce.
Portobello mushrooms can be cooked in various ways: roasted, fried, baked, and grilled – or even microwaved if you’re in a pinch.
They’re also incredibly easy to grow yourself; they’re relatively low-maintenance, and there are plenty of kits out there that allow you to raise your mushrooms at home without too much fuss.
3 – Button Mushrooms (White or Brown)
Button mushrooms are so common in Western cuisine that their ubiquity has led to the belief that they’re boring.
However, button mushrooms can be surprisingly flavorful if treated properly.
Button mushrooms are incredibly versatile – you can slice them up and use them as a delicious topping for burgers or pizzas, or even use them in dishes like vegan stroganoff.
They work best when sauteed in butter, but they can also be fried or cooked alongside veggies like onions and tomatoes (for vegan alfredo sauce).
Also, because button mushrooms are so common, you’re likely to find them at most grocery stores.
If you’ve run out of shiitake mushrooms but still need some mushroom options for your dish, try the button mushroom.
4 – Enoki Mushrooms
This white Japanese mushroom is a great choice for vegan dishes.
Its small size makes it perfect for appetizers.
Its mild flavor works well in many different types of cuisine – making it an excellent replacement for traditional vegetables like carrot, turnip, or broccoli.
Enoki mushrooms are packed with vitamins and nutrients, so they’re especially beneficial to vegans and vegetarians who don’t get enough of their daily intake from the foods they eat.
One important thing to note is that because enoki mushrooms are so small, you’ll only be able to harvest a few at a time when you’re picking them in the wild.
This can make it quite expensive.
It’s much more cost-effective to get enoki mushrooms from a local grocery or food market, especially if you’re using them as a garnish.
5 – Porcini Mushrooms
Porcini mushrooms (also known as cepes) are a delicious type of mushroom ideal for vegan dishes.
Their flavor is mild and is elevated by the stronger flavors in the dish you add them to – so they’re not overpowering.
They can be cooked in various ways, including frying, roasting, and baking.
They also have a long shelf life, so if you’re trying to stock up on vegan ingredients for a potluck or party, porcini mushrooms may be a good option.
Porcini mushrooms are pretty common in grocery stores, but they can be difficult to find.
You’ll have the best luck looking for them at mom-and-pop stores, small grocers, or farmers’ markets.
Shiitake mushrooms are a delicious type of mushroom beloved by vegans and non-vegans alike.
Finding them at grocery stores is pretty easy because they’ve become such a staple in vegan cooking.
However, if you’re ever out looking for some shiitake mushrooms and can’t find them – don’t worry.
There are plenty of other types of mushrooms out there that are just as delicious or even more delicious.
Try using crimini mushrooms, portobello mushrooms, button mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, or porcini mushrooms to replace shiitake mushrooms in your next vegan meal – you’ll be amazed at how delicious they are.