Shiitake Mushrooms and Cream

Shiitake mushrooms were the first mushrooms I came across that were anything more than the regulars you get in every fruit shop. Treat them gently.

There are pine mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms and oyster mushrooms, and lately we’ve seen varieties such as enoki, wood-ears and even fresh black truffles. Few of us can afford truffles, but these other breeds of mushrooms are worth a look at when you’re after something with a touch of the earth. Most of them are best tried first cooked gently to remove any excess moisture, then tossed in a little melted butter, a few drops of lemon juice and a sprinkle of thyme. From there, start thinking.

Shiitake mushrooms are probably the most readily available. You’ll find them in any market, or specialty fruiterer. If not fresh, they are easily obtained in their dry state, perhaps with more flavour than the fresh version. They are not the poor person’s truffles. They are big time in Japan and they are hot in California. They have a subtle, woody flavour that enjoys mixing with cream.

250g fresh shiitake mushrooms, chopped roughly – If you’re using dried mushrooms you’ll only need about 20g.

sherry (optional)

1 clove garlic

zest of 1 lime

50g butter

juice of ½ lime

½ cup chicken or vegetable stock, or 1 chicken stock cube

1 cup pouring cream


¼ cup thyme leaves


black pepper


If you’re using dried mushrooms, soak them in water or, better still, sherry, for several hours. Once the mushrooms have softened, use them in the same way as the fresh. Keep the softening liquid for the sauce as well.


Cook the mushrooms with the garlic, lime zest and butter until the mushrooms have softened. Add the lime juice and stir through. If you have chicken or vegetable stock, add it now, and cook down for a few minutes on medium heat.


Add the crumbled stock cube (if using), cream and rosemary. Cook gently, stirring, on a low heat, until the sauce has thickened – about 5 minutes. Add the thyme leaves, and salt and pepper to your needs.

NOTE Try this also with chopped pine mushrooms and, of course, the mass market version.

WINE: A double whammy of richness: mushrooms, and cream. The wine must help you cut through the richness. Try a quality riesling, from the Clare, Adelaide Hills or Central Victoria. If you’re into red with this dish, the same rules apply: go for a red from the cool growing areas, something with acid. Suggest Coonawarra, or a wine from southern Victoria.