If you’re craving a strong mushroom flavor, adding maitake mushrooms to your recipe can be your best bet.
In addition to providing an earthy, spicy flavor, the maitake or “hen of the woods” mushroom is popularly known to have medicinal properties. So, what are maitake mushrooms, and how can you use them in recipes? Let’s find out.
What Are Maitake Mushrooms?
Maitake mushrooms are polypore fungi and tend to grow at the base of hardwood trees, especially oaks. They are widely popular in Japan and China. You can also find them in North American and European forests. They are known by different names, including hen of the woods, ram’s head, sheep’s head, king of the mushrooms, dancing mushroom, the signoria mushroom, and kumotake.
Maitakes are relatively short-lived. They are best when tender and young, as they can get bitter and woody as they age.
You are most likely to find fresh ones in the woods or in your local farmer’s market in late summer and early fall.
For more details about foraging for maitake mushrooms, see our article, All About the Delicious Hen of the Woods Mushroom.
What Do They Taste Like?
The flesh inside maitakes is firm and white. It has an earthy, spicy flavor with a woodsy scent, which is why these mushrooms are sought after by chefs around the world.
Many people consider them to be best when sautéed. However, there are many other ways to cook maitake mushrooms – you can roast, stew, or even deep fry them if you are more inclined toward enjoying their chewy texture and crunchiness.
Additionally, you can also consider dehydrating and then slicing and eating them like potato chips. Or you can simply crush the dried mushrooms into a powder and add them to recipes to take advantage of their woodsy flavor and health benefits.
Ready to explore some hen of the woods recipes?
Delicious Hen of the Woods Recipes to Please Your Palate
1. Roasted Hen of the Woods or Maitake Mushrooms
- 1 lb. hen of the woods, peeled and cleaned
- 3 tbsp. of Italian parsley, chopped
- 6-7 cracks of the pepper mill
- 3 tbsp. flavorless cooking oil
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Toss the peeled and cleaned maitake mushroom pieces with all the ingredients mentioned above.
- Spread the pieces on a baking sheet and bake them at 375 degrees F for around 30 minutes or until the mushrooms turn crisp around the edges and are slightly soft in the center.
- Remove the mushrooms and let them settle down for a bit. Serve and enjoy.
Need a detailed description of this recipe? Click here: Simple Roasted Hen of the Woods.
2. Grilled Hen of the Woods Mushrooms with Sesame
- 2 pounds maitake mushrooms, separated into 8 wedges
- 2 tbsp. thinly sliced parsley
- 1 tbsp. sesame seeds
- Extra virgin oil
- Freshly ground pepper
- Salt to taste
- Lime wedges for garnish
- Take a small skillet and toast the sesame seeds over medium heat. Keep stirring frequently for around 3 minutes or until they turn golden. Place them aside.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and heat a grill pan. Meanwhile, coat the mushroom wedges with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper according to your taste.
- Grill the mushrooms over medium-high heat. It is recommended to grill them in small batches. Turn them occasionally. Continue to grill for around 8 minutes per batch, or until they turn brown and crisp.
- Once grilled, reheat the wedges by placing them in the preheated oven for 4 minutes.
- To serve, garnish with some parsley and sesame seeds. You can also consider placing lime wedges.
Click here for the full recipe: Grilled Hen of the Woods Mushrooms with Sesame.
3. Sauteed Hen of the Woods Mushrooms
- 1 pound of hen of the woods
- 2 large shallots, finely chopped
- 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves without stems, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Clean the mushrooms and brush off any dirt with a damp paper towel. Dice them into 1-inch cubes.
- Take a large skillet. Heat butter and oil over medium-high flame. As soon as butter stops sizzling, add mushrooms.
- Sauté the mushrooms for 4 minutes or until they turn soft.
- Add the rest of the ingredients including shallots, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper.
- Sauté for the next 2 minutes. Give everything a good stir and serve.
Check out some interesting cooking notes for this recipe here: Sauteed Hen of the Woods Mushrooms.
4. Cream of Maitake Soup
- 2 pounds maitake mushrooms
- 1 pound potatoes, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 pound carrots, chopped
- 6 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon cracked pepper
- 8-10 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon sage, minced
- 1 teaspoon thyme, minced
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- Salt to taste
- Clean the mushrooms thoroughly. Pat them dry using a paper towel and chop them into small pieces.
- Take a heavy soup pot and heat butter and olive oil over a medium-high flame. Add garlic and onion as soon as the butter starts to melt. Keep stirring occasionally. Sauté for around five minutes.
- Next, add the mushrooms and sprinkle salt and pepper as per your taste. Give everything a good stir and continue to cook for around 10 minutes over medium-high heat.
- Now, add the potatoes and carrots and sauté for another 5 minutes. Keep stirring everything frequently.
- Add the vegetable stock, thyme, bay leaves, and sage, and bring the mixture to a boil. Now, reduce the heat and let it simmer for 30 minutes.
- Once done, remove the bay leaf and blend the mixture until you get a smooth consistency. At this stage, add white wine and lemon juice. Simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Last, stir in the cream and adjust the seasonings, if required.
- Top the dish with your preferred herbs and serve hot.
Get detailed information on maitake mushrooms here: Cream of Maitake Soup.
5. Soba and Maitake Mushrooms in Soy Broth
- ½ pound maitake mushrooms (cut them into large pieces)
- 4 baby turnips, thinly sliced
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced
- 8 ounces soba (Japanese-style noodles)
- ½ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 1 piece ginger, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 4 egg yolks (preferably large ones)
- Freshly ground pepper
- Kosher salt
- ¼ cup dried wakame (optional)
- In a small saucepan, add garlic and ginger along with 4 cups of water and bring them to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for around 10 minutes.
- Now, add soy sauce and wakame (if you’re using it). Turn off the flame and set the broth aside.
- Take a large skillet and heat oil over medium-high flame. Add mushrooms and sprinkle salt and pepper. Cook them until they turn brown. This should take around 10 to 12 minutes. Once cooked, transfer them to a large plate.
- Simultaneously, boil the soba in saltwater. Stir occasionally until they are cooked. Drain and place them aside.
- Now, arrange the serving bowls with equal quantities of soba and broth. Layer them with mushrooms, egg yolks, and turnips.
- Last, garnish the dish with scallions and sesame seeds. Serve and enjoy.
Find the full recipe here: Soba and Maitake Mushrooms in Soy Broth.
No matter whether you sauté, pan-fry, grill, or infuse them, Maitake mushrooms are a great addition to almost any recipe. Satiate your palate by trying the above-mentioned hen of the woods recipes and share your experience with us.
Do you have any special maitake mushroom recipes to share? Do tell us in the comments. We’d love to share the recipes with other mushroom lovers.
Take a look at our mushroom recipe page for some other great mushroom recipe ideas.
And check out our article on cooking chestnut mushrooms for another fall favorite.