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What is a Nameko Mushroom?

Nameko mushroom are often used in miso soup.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2014
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A nameko or butterscotch mushroom is a variety of mushroom with a bright orange cap and a mild flavor. Nameko mushrooms are cultivated in Japan, where they are very popular, and they are exported to various regions of the world to meet consumer demand. Some Japanese restaurants have dishes with nameko mushrooms, and these mushrooms are also popular in Japanese home cooking. If you have a recipe which calls for nameko mushrooms and you can't find any in your area, you can try using shiitakes as a substitute.

The nameko mushroom grows in tight clusters of white stems, and the caps tend to be crowded together as a result of the crowded growth habit of the stems. When fresh, the caps have a shiny appearance, and a slightly gelatinous feel. As the mushrooms are cooked, they develop a jellylike texture which can surprise some consumers; this trait makes them ideally suited for certain stir fries and traditional Japanese soups.

You may also hear the nameko mushroom called a butterscotch mushroom, or Pholiota nameko, by people in a more formal mood. Because the bulk of these mushrooms are cultivated, it is sometimes possible to purchase nameko mushroom starter, if you're interested in growing your own mushrooms. These mild and slimy mushrooms tend to be an acquired taste, but some people find the texture enjoyable and suitable with cuisine from regions outside of Japan as well as in it.

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Fresh nameko mushrooms are typically available from around October to February. When picking out mushrooms in the market, look for shiny caps with a fresh appearance and no serious stains or discolorations. Avoid mushrooms with a pitted or cracked surface appearance. Wrap the mushrooms in paper and store them in the fridge; they generally keep around three to four days. It is also possible to find nameko mushrooms in canned form in Asian markets year round.

One common use of these mushrooms is in miso soup, if you've been gifted with a nameko mushroom and you don't know what to do with it. You can also trying using the mushrooms in Japanese stir fry recipes; be aware that they turn slimy and sticky if cooked for too long, however. Some Japanese consumers also enjoy the mushrooms cooked with rice and a little bit of rice vinegar. If you want to experiment with the nameko mushroom in cuisine from other regions, consider the texture before adding it into familiar dishes, as the sliminess does not complement all foods.

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anon195052
Post 4

Pleats there is a new place that opened up called The Mushroom Shack they have Nameko Mushroom kits that grow very well. Mine is doing great. I would suggest checking them out online. They will ship them to you if you call the store and place a special order.

googlefanz
Post 3

I've been growing morel mushrooms for quite some time now, and I was wondering if the same principles applied for namekos. Does anybody know?

naturesgurl3
Post 2

Nameko mushrooms are fantastic, but I would remind people that when you buy nameko mushrooms, do keep your common sense. So many people think that mushrooms look weird anyway, so they don't look at their mushrooms before they buy them.

When you buy nameko mushrooms, the first thing you need to look at is color. It they're kind of brown/gold, then you're good. If they're very dark or very light, then you might did better to find another source of mushrooms.

Also, although mushrooms are going to be a little slimy if they get wet, you shouldn't buy any nameko mushrooms that are overly slimy or mushy. This is usually a sign that they got wet, and will turn into mush when you cook them. Unfortunately, some produce sections still haven't caught on to the fact that you have to keep your mushrooms away from those little freshener sprayers.

Finally, I would urge you to buy organic nameko mushrooms, and of course as much organic produce as you can. It's not only better for the environment, but you don't have to worry about feeding yourself pesticides like you would with other foods. Just "food" for thought.

pleats
Post 1

I was wondering how to grow nameko mushrooms. I have a shiitake mushroom log, and I've really gotten into growing mushrooms -- it's a surprisingly addictive habit.

So what kind of mushroom supplies do I need? Obviously the mushroom log for shiitake mushrooms won't work for namekas, but what should I get?

Any information would be greatly appreciated.

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