Generally, yes, mushroom stems are edible. Not that I’ve had the pleasure of trying all edible mushrooms but, among those that I’ve tried including the ubiquitous button mushrooms (white and brown), oyster mushrooms, bunashimeji, portobello, straw mushrooms, Eryngii, abalone and Enoki, the stems are as succulent as the caps.
I take exception only with shiitake (a.k.a. “Chinese black mushrooms” although they are not always black). The stems of the skiitake mushroom I find too fibrous and too chewy. I’m sure that there are people who find skiitake stems completely palatable but not me.
When preparing fresh shiitake mushrooms, I remove the stems. With smaller shiitake mushrooms, it is easy to just pull of the stem to separate it from the cap. With larger skiitake mushrooms, pulling off the stem sometimes damages the cap — either the cap breaks or a chunk of the soft flesh comes off with the stem. So, what I do is to cut off the stem, cutting as close to the part where it is attached to the cap.
With the stems out of the way, I proceed to cut the caps into slices or chunks, depending on the dish I am preparing.
And what do I do with the shiitake stems — throw them away? That’s wasteful. Despite being too fibrous and chewy to eat, shiitake mushroom stems are too flavorful to discard. So, I add them to the pot when making broth.
Thrown in with meat bones, spices and aromatics, shiitake stems make a wonderful addition to create a very tasty broth.
To conclude this post, a list of some of my favorite mushroom recipes and recipes with mushroom as an ingredient:
- Butter-garlic mushrooms
- Chicken a la King
- Salmon and portobello mushroom kebabs
- Tofu and mushrooms with bean sprouts and spinach
- Risotto with grilled oyster and shiitake mushrooms
- Tilapia and baby portobello mushrooms in cream sauce
- Portobello mushroom and bacon sandwiches