Shiitake (Lentinus edodes)

From Japanese shii tree + take = mushroom

High in protein, fibre, minerals and healthy cholesterol lowering sterols. The most popular exotic mushroom for cooking. Meaty firm texture which is slippery when cooked. Very common in Asian and Italian cooking. Like any of the exotic mushrooms, best pan fried, sautéed in butter or oil, or it can be added to soups or stews to give a satisfying taste. First cultivated in 11th century Japan during Southern Song dynasty. Well before modern cultivation techniques were invented, people cut and placed Shii trees (related to beech and oak) next to trees which were producing the mushrooms.

Pink Oyster (P. salmoneostramineus)

Yellow Oyster (P. citrinopileatus)

It is often said that first we eat with our eyes, and when you consider the health promoting effects of these delicious mushrooms this old wisdom rings true. These two eye catching mushrooms contain high levels of antioxidants, which give the mushrooms their characteristic colour.

Antioxidants have been found to counteract the damaging effects of oxidation in the body, reducing cellular and DNA damage both of which are associated with ageing.

King Oyster (Pleurotus eryngii)

Another member of the Pleurotus sp. group however quite distinct from the other 3 species shown. This species produces large mushrooms with hearty stems and is often used as a meat substitute and in dishes such as soups and stews. When cooked it develops typical mushroom savoury (umami) flavours with a meaty texture.

The first modern cultivation was undertaken in 1993 in Japan. Now widely cultivated, its uniquely durable fruiting body makes it great for mass production and shipping, and the sheer size of the mushrooms is also impressive.

Grey Oyster (Pleurotus ostreatus)

The oyster mushroom is a delicacy in Asian cooking. Also used in the Czech and Slovak contemporary cuisine in soups and stews in a similar fashion to meat.

It was first cultivated in Germany as a subsistence measure during World War I. Some sources say it was long cultivated in Asia. Now the 2nd most cultivated mushroom after the common white button mushroom. This mushroom contains lovastatin (0.7-2.8%), a known cholesterol lowering compound.

Maitake (Grifola frondosa)

Aka ‘hen-of-the-woods’

A polypore type mushroom that grows in clusters at the base of trees, particularly oaks. With its rich and deep flavours and nutty texture, these pretty mushrooms are delicious, seared, roasted, deep-fried, grilled or sautéed. Maitake has been found beneficial in treating patients with weak immune systems and has been clinically applied for the treatment of different types of cancer.

White Beech (Hypsizygus tessellatus)

Aka ‘Shimeji’

A choice mushroom with a sweet smell and mild sweet nutty flavour. When cooked this mushroom has a pleasant, firm, Slightly crunchy texture and a delicious slightly nutty flavour. Suitable in stir-fries as well as with wild game or seafood.

It can also it can be used in soups, stews and in sauces. Highly esteemed in Japan where cultivation techniques were first developed.

Lions Mane (Hericium erinaceus)

Aka ‘Pom Pom Blanc’ or ‘Monkeyhead’

A truly beautiful and delicious mushroom which when pan fried has the appearance and texture of chicken. It’s also describes as being like seafood and in it can be used in place of lamb or even pork.

Used in Chinese medicine since around 2000BC. In modern times it is known as the anti-dementia mushroom as it contains compounds found to stimulate the regeneration of neurons. This mushroom is known to improve memory and mood. In traditional medicine it is also used to treat liver and stomach cancers, and gastric ulcers.

Forest Nameko (Pholiota microspora)

Used in Asian cultures for its medicinal effects like the other exotic mushrooms it is rich in healthy antioxidants, fats, vitamins, minerals, beneficial fibre and carbohydrates. A popular mushroom in the Japanese soup miso, this wonderful mushroom can enhance almost any dish. Its has an earthy, forest flavour that is enhanced when sautéed. Its silky texture withstands the sautéing process well. Described as having a cashew-butterscotch aroma it is often used to thicken soups or stews.

Enjoy with a glass of Pinot Noir and rich foods such as red meats, fowl, dark green veg and shallots.

If you would like more information please contact

Dolores and Joe Gorman, Garryhinch, Co. Offaly.