Portobello mushrooms, native to Europe and North America, are large, meaty mushrooms often used as a substitute for steak or hamburger. They are a mature form of common white or crimini mushrooms. Shiitake mushrooms, high in iron and packing a smoky flavor, are native to Asia and have a round cap with a dark underside. Though Shiitake and Portobello mushrooms are widely used in cooking, they differ in taste, texture, size, and price.
Portobello mushrooms are native to the grasslands of Europe and North America while shiitake mushrooms are native to East Asia. Both types of mushrooms grow in the wild but are also cultivated for food and, in the case of shiitake mushrooms, for perceived medicinal value.
Nutrition and Health Benefits
One major difference between these two mushroom types is nutritional value. While Portobello mushrooms are high in iron, potassium and vitamin D, no one ranks them as highly as the Shiitake variety for health.
Cultures around the world prize Shiitake mushrooms for their health benefits, including warding off heart disease. Promoters of Shiitake mushrooms say ingesting these mushrooms prevents heart disease by lowering bad cholesterol levels. Further, animal tests have shown that a compound in the Shiitake called lentinin has anti-tumor and immune system-boosting benefits. In human studies, lentinin was beneficial in prolonging life of patients with stomach and colon cancers.
Flavor and texture
If you’ve had a vegetarian over for dinner – especially a barbecue – chances are you’ve grilled up a Portobello cap for a main course. That’s because the texture of a cooked Portobello is thick and almost meat-like; these mushrooms also soak up a lot of liquid, making them ideal for a barbecue sauce of teriyaki marinade. The caps are also large, typically around 5 inches in diameter. Portobellos are often used as a substitute for steak in hamburger, and an option for vegans.
Shiitake mushrooms are often used in Asian cooking, especially Chinese and Japanese cuisine. Shiitake mushrooms are also slightly meaty, and add flavor often described as woody or smoky.
Portobello mushrooms are part of the same mushroom family as white button and cremini (among others) varieties, which grow commonly across North America. For that reason, they may be available fresh in your local supermarket more often than the native-to-Asia Shiitake variety.
You may find Shiitake mushrooms sold dry in plastic packages. It’s simple to rehydrate the mushrooms by soaking them in warm water.
According to lore, the Portobello got its name during the 1980s during a marketing effort to glamorize – and thus sell – a mushroom that was often discarded. Portobello mushroom is a mature form of the Agaricus bisporus, the common mushroom known by various names: button mushroom, white mushroom, cultivated mushroom, table mushroom, champignon mushroom when white, and Swiss brown mushroom, Roman brown mushroom, Italian brown, Italian mushroom, cremini/crimini mushroom, brown cap mushrooms, chestnut mushroom when brown.
The word Shiitake is Japanese, and comes from combing the words for tree (Shii) and mushroom (take). Shiitake mushrooms grow on trees or logs. The scientific name for shiitake mushroom is Lentinula edodes.
Portobello and Shiitake are used so widely in cooking, you will find several recipes strewn over the Internet. Some of the more authentic and easy recipes are below for
Allrecpies has a range of easy recipes for Portobello sautés and barbecues. Grilling or roasted a marinade-soaked Portobello are popular cooking methods.
Eatingwell has a popular recipe that combines Shiitake mushrooms with basil, garlic, butter, and fettuccine. For a more traditional use, you can look up the traditional Shiitake mushroom miso soup recipe on Food Network.
- Shiitake Mushrooms - The World's Healthiest Foods
- Wikipedia: Shiitake
- Shiitake mushrooms for cancer patients -- Cancer.org
- Portobello Mushroom - Food Network
- Wikipedia: Agaricus bisporus
- Grilled Portabella Mushrooms - Self Nutrition Data
- History of Mushrooms - The Mushroom Lady
- Portobello - Groumet Sleuth