Mushrooms: きのこ

きのこ (hiragana), キノコ (katakana), as well as possible kanji 茸, 菌, or 蕈: all pronounced KINOKO… means mushroom!

There are many types of mushrooms you can find in the grocery stores and farmers markets of Okinawa… pretty much all of them are delicious. Here is a short list which I will update later with some pictures:

shiitake しいたけ, シイタケ, 椎茸: so versatile, you can use them for anything. I can’t begin to list all the uses.


maitake まいたけ, マイタケ, 舞茸: “dancing” mushrooms. These are probably my favorite– they make a delicious tempura.


eryngii えりんぎ, エリンギ: king trumpet, king oyster. These are great grilled, so add them in next time you do yakiniku.


enoki(take) えのき(たけ), エノキ: these little guys can be used some different ways; soup is popular, but so is sauté. A lot of people wrap in bacon cook for a fancy appetizer.


shimeji しめじ, シメジ: these are pretty good in stir-fry or sauté.

kikurage キクラゲ, 木耳: wood ear or Jew’s ear. Good in soups, simmered dishes, hotpot.

bunashimeji ぶなしめじ, ブナシメジ: just like shimeji, these are pretty good in stir-fry or sauté.

nameko なめこ, ナメコ: to be honest I don’t eat these guys much, but they are good for soups and nabe.


mushroom マシュルーム: these are your typical white button mushrooms… notice it is spelled in katakana.

crimini mushroom ブラウンマッシュルーム: similar to above, it is “brown mushroom” in katakana.

matsutake 松茸, マツタケ: you will probably never see these in Okinawa, or only rarely in high-end stores. This is due to the high cost here in Japan.

Recently, I have even seen some “portabello” type mushrooms in the stores, though there are usually just extra large shiitake mushrooms.

Another unusual mushroom that is recently popping up is the matsu-kinoko 松きのこ, a variety from Hiroshima that supposedly as the taste and fragrance of a matsutake but the texture of an eryngii… at a fraction of the cost of matsutake. I have yet to try this one.

Something else of note, here in Okinawa there are some local mushroom cultivators. Sometimes you may see them at the local farmers markets and industry product fairs, so be sure to give them a try. You can even purchase a mushroom block to take home and grow your own mushrooms… my husband did this a few years back.