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Maitake Mushrooms: Nature's Chicken Substitute
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Maitake Mushrooms: Nature's Chicken Substitute

Seraiah Alexander
Seraiah Alexander
June 14, 2023
5 min

Maitake mushrooms (Grifola frondosa), otherwise known as hen of the woods, are a delicious wild mushroom that shockingly tastes like chicken meat. They have a succulent, meaty texture and rich umami flavor, which makes them a brilliant meat substitute. Maitake is an excellent source of vitamin D, potassium, and phosphorus. If you’re looking for a hearty mushroom or convincing plant-based chicken for your favorite recipes, look no further!

Where to find maitake mushrooms

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In the wild, maitake can be found growing on stumps or the bases of oak, maple, elm, and other hardwood trees. They grow all over North America but primarily in the Northeast.

Although maitake mushrooms are unlikely to grace the shelves of your local grocery store, you may have luck at an Asian market as they often carry a wide variety of mushrooms. Though availability may vary, specialty stores like Whole Foods may also carry maitake. You can also purchase fresh or dried maitake from many online mushroom retailers. 

Your nearby farmer’s market may also carry maitake mushrooms, so you can purchase them locally sourced and fresh from your community mushroom growers.

How to cook maitake

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Maitake can elevate a wide range of dishes, whether you use them for a quick appetizer or as the star of a main course. Before cooking, make sure to gently clean the mushroom by carefully wiping away any dirt with a damp cloth. Most cultivated mushrooms don’t need a deep clean, especially if they are properly cooked, so a quick wipe-down should do the job of clearing any leftover debris. Although we don’t recommend soaking your mushrooms in water, foraged maitake should be cleaned more thoroughly to avoid any environmental contaminants or potentially harmful microorganisms. You can give them a brief rinse under the sink, then pat them dry with a paper towel. Mushrooms act like sponges and absorb water quickly, so they should not be submerged for too long.

Like chicken, eating raw maitake could lead to foodborne illnesses, and cooking it can enhance its flavors and texture. Cook these mushrooms until they are tender or until they reach an internal temperature of 160°F. Maitake is a versatile ingredient that can be used in many different dishes, so you can cook maitake any way you would cook real chicken.

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Sautéed

Sautéing is one of the simplest ways to prepare any mushroom. Heat a skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat, then add some oil or butter. Add the maitake mushrooms and stir them in the pan until they turn golden brown and tender. Season to taste, then add them to your favorite dishes.

Roasted

Roasting maitake mushrooms gives them a deeper flavor and a crispy texture. Heat your oven to 400°F, then add your maitake to a baking sheet with oil and your preferred seasonings. Cook for 15-20 minutes until tender and crisp to your liking. Roasted maitake is great on its own, as a side, or in sandwiches.

In soups

Not only does maitake add loads of flavor to soups, but they also absorb the flavors of the broth, making them succulent and juicy. Break the maitake up into smaller pieces and use them in soup recipes for that extra umami flavor and satisfying texture. 

Fried/Airfried

Everything tastes great fried, and maitake mushrooms are no exception! To get that delicious crispy texture, coat the maitake in a batter or seasoned flour mixture. Then, you can shallow fry them in a skillet, deep fry them for the traditional fried experience or air fry them for a healthier alternative. Regardless of your chosen method, the result is a perfectly crispy and golden brown mushroom that will satisfy your fried food cravings.

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Grilled

Grilling your maitake mushrooms will give them a deep, smoky, and charred flavor. Heat up your barbeque to medium-high heat. Next, coat your maitake in oil or your favorite marinade, and cook for about 12-15 minutes, flipping them halfway through. Grilled maitake is an excellent option for a vegan BBQ dish and can be enjoyed in sandwiches or served with other sides and vegetables.

Maitake mushroom recipes

Chipotle citrus maitake tacos

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  • Prep time: 2 hours
  • Total time: 2 hours and 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: Beginner

These delicious maitake tacos are plant-based and gluten-free. This recipe uses the juices of three different citruses to marinate the maitake, along with some smoky chipotle powder and fresh cilantro. Shred up the maitake into small pieces and marinate for at least two hours, allowing the mushrooms to soak up all the flavors. Then, pan fry the maitake with some minced shallots until caramelized and golden brown. Serve in corn tortillas with your favorite taco toppings, and enjoy!

Kentucky fried hen of the woods

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  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Total time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: Intermediate

This recipe mimics fried chicken and tastes a whole lot like it. Slice the mushroom longways, then prepare your vegan ‘egg’ substitute by combining flax seed powder, water, and liquid smoke. Make a dry batter using flour, nutritional yeast, and plenty of seasonings like paprika, garlic powder, allspice, thyme, and sage. The versatility of this recipe allows you to choose between fried, air fryer, and oven-baked instructions. It is entirely vegan and can be made with any type of flour, making it an excellent gluten-free option. 

Hearty maitake stew

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Total time: 40 minutes
  • Difficulty: Beginner

This savory, nutrient-dense, plant-based stew is a great way to savor the flavors of maitake mushrooms. First, you’ll need to break apart your mushrooms and chop up some onion, celery, carrots, and potatoes. Next, sauté the mushrooms in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add Worcestershire sauce, balsamic, coconut aminos, and your seasonings, and cook until the mushrooms absorb the juices. Remove the maitake from the pan once they are mostly cooked, then add the veggies and broth. Cook for seven to ten minutes, then add in garbanzo beans, coconut milk, and salt and pepper to taste. Finally, add your cooked mushrooms and simmer for another five to seven minutes. You’ll be left with a rich, creamy stew that’ll have you coming back for seconds.

Maitake stir-fry

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  • Prep time: 12 minutes
  • Total time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Intermediate

This yummy stir fry is inspired by twice-cooked pork, a popular Chinese dish. For this recipe, you’ll need to tear up your maitake into bite-size pieces, then massage them with salt and let them sit for a few minutes to draw out moisture. Then, coat the mushrooms in cornstarch and deep fry until they are crispy and golden brown. Set the fried mushrooms to the side on a paper towel, then heat up oil with garlic, broad bean paste, and spring onions. Add in some sugar and soy sauce along with bell peppers and the fried mushrooms. Toss together and serve warm with some noodles or rice. 

Wild mushroom risotto

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  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Total time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Intermediate

This wild mushroom risotto is the ultimate comfort food packed with mushroomy goodness. Saute chopped onion and risotto rice, then add your favorite broth and white wine. In a second pan, saute fresh garlic and the mushrooms until tender. This recipe calls for a variety of different types of mushrooms, such as shiitake and oyster mushrooms, but you can stick to strictly maitake if you please. Once the mushrooms are cooked, add them to the rice pan and toss with parmesan cheese. Drizzle with truffle oil and add salt and pepper to taste.

Maitake: the ultimate chicken replacement

Try maitake out for yourself; it may become one of your favorite edible mushrooms. They’re delicious, nutritious, and a great meat substitute. If you’re looking for a mushroom with the taste and texture of chicken, give maitake mushrooms a try. You may be surprised by how meaty and succulent these nutritious mushrooms are!


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food
Seraiah Alexander

Seraiah Alexander

Content Editor

Table Of Contents

1
Where to find maitake mushrooms
2
How to cook maitake
3
Maitake mushroom recipes
4
Maitake: the ultimate chicken replacement

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