Choose organically grown shiitake mushrooms whenever possible so you don't have to worry so much about cleaning them up afterwards, as they won't have the chemical additives. That said, just rinse the mushrooms quickly with water and remove the stems (or stalks) before cooking them.
Method 1 of 3: Washing Shiitake Mushrooms
Step 1. Clean visible dirt
If the mushrooms still have a lot of soil or other debris, clean them carefully with your hand, a clean cloth, paper towel, or a soft-bristle brush. Don't worry about cleaning up just yet.
- There are kitchen brushes designed specifically for cleaning delicate foods such as shiitake mushrooms. However, while they are useful, they are not necessary in this case.
- Generally speaking, passing a dry sheet of paper towel is enough.
Step 2. Rinse the mushrooms
As they absorb some moisture, it is not recommended to wash them with a lot of water, just rinsing them under cold water is sufficient.
Some chefs prefer not to wash mushrooms when they are organic and free from chemical additives
Step 3. Shake or air dry
Shake the mushrooms in your hand or use a salad dryer to remove any remaining water. If water gets trapped in the underside of a shiitake, hold it by the stem and shake it more vigorously.
Wash the mushrooms again if they are still very dirty
Method 2 of 3: Removing the stipes and cutting
Step 1. Remove the stem from each mushroom
While keeping the stem is a matter of personal preference when preparing mushrooms, the shiitake stems should always be removed. To do this, squeeze the stalk right where it touches the mushroom's hat and slowly pull it in the opposite direction from which it is tilted.
- For example, if you are holding the mushroom upside down and the stalk is tilted towards you, pull it away from you.
- Discard the stems or save them for use in soups and broths.
Step 2. Remove the stems from the dried mushrooms before rehydrating them
Dried shiitake are not so tasty, but they are good to have on hand because they last longer and are quite useful in some dishes. They require a little more work in their preparation, needing to be soaked before cooking. The ease, however, is the time to remove the stems, which detach more easily when they are dry or dehydrated.
Step 3. Slice the mushrooms, preferably into thin strips
Place the shiitake hat top side up on a cutting board and carefully cut it into thin strips.
If you are more skillful, stack several shiitake hats and cut them at once to save time
Method 3 of 3: Sorting and Storing Mushrooms
Step 1. Buy shiitakes in bulk
Whenever possible, opt for mushrooms sold in bulk instead of packaged ones so that you can select the cleanest and freshest mushrooms.
Choose mushrooms with thicker hats
Step 2. Choose firm, dry mushrooms
Both their stipe and their hat should be firm and dry to the touch, with those with rounded and curved hats usually being the coolest. Avoid mushrooms that look shriveled or soft and slimy.
- The blades on the underside of the hat should also be dry and firm.
- Dark spots and a wet appearance indicate that the mushroom is already over. These signs appear primarily on the shiitake blades.
Step 3. Store the mushrooms in the refrigerator
Refrigeration helps keep them cool. If you bought fresh shiitake, they will last a few days when stored in an open plastic bag in the refrigerator. Do not close the container as they need air.