I came across these mushrooms at Far West Fungi at the San Francisco Ferry Building yesterday. I come to this stall often to get Porcini mushrooms and stock, which I used in my Risotto recipe. The Shimeji mushrooms are beautiful and delicate. Since I usually buy dried mushrooms, I was intrigued by the soft and round quality of them.
Having never used Shimeji mushrooms before, I took a look at Wikipedia and found the following information:
Shimeji should always be cooked: it is not a good mushroom to serve raw due to a somewhat bitter taste, but the bitterness disappears completely upon cooking. The cooked mushroom has a pleasant, firm, slightly crunchy texture and a slightly nutty flavor. Cooking also makes this mushroom easier to digest. In stir-fried foods, as well as with wild game or seafood it is a good mushroom. Also it can be used in soups, stews and in sauces. When cooked alone, Shimeji mushrooms can be sautéed as a whole, including the stem or stalk (only the very end cut off), using a higher temperature or they can be slow roasted on a low temperature with a small amount of butter or cooking oil. Shimeji is used in soups, nabe and takikomi gohan.
I'm very much looking forward to a warm broth-based noodle dish incorporating these mushrooms, which, of course, I will share with you all!