Oyster mushrooms are beloved for both their delicate texture and flavor. While they can technically be eaten raw, cooking the mushrooms brings out the best of their nutty taste. When cooked, oyster mushrooms are somewhat reminiscent of seafood. Their pleasant mild taste makes oysters one of the most versatile mushrooms for cooking.
These mushrooms generally grow in clusters of eccentrically stemmed, scallop shaped caps, but they can also grow individually. Oyster mushrooms are eaten in a variety of cuisines, but they are especially popular in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cooking. One appeal of oyster mushrooms is their quick prep time; they can be used whole, torn, or chopped.
Oyster mushrooms have been used as a medicinal ingredient for thousands of years. They have numerous purported benefits. For example, traditional Chinese medicine has used oyster mushrooms in a tonic for the immune system for 3,000 years or longer. It’s also been claimed that these mushrooms have significant antibacterial properties. One 1997 study found that oyster mushrooms are filled with an active compound called benzaldehyde that reduces bacterial levels.
Nutritionally, oyster mushrooms are low calorie; high in zinc, iron, calcium, and potassium; and filled with antioxidants.
Texture and Recommended Preparation
Oyster mushrooms have a more tender consistency than Shiitake, but they hold their own with a sweet woodsy taste. For a firm texture, cook Oyster Mushrooms until crisp.
Oyster mushrooms are quite versatile! They can be prepared in a variety of ways, and they are a lovely addition to risottos, pastas, pizzas, and more. This mushroom type is often used as a vegan meat substitute in dishes like tacos, stir fries, and “seafood” dishes. If you are preparing a dish that requires a long cooking time, we recommend adding the oyster mushrooms in the last stage of cooking; their thin cap cooks quickly. Oyster mushrooms can also be an exquisite side dish when pan fried.