This is a food-as-medicine post for sure. Maitake mushrooms also known as“Dancing Mushroom,” Hen-of-the-Wood, Sheep’s Head or Ram’s Head mushrooms, tend to grown in clusters at the base of oak trees. And these pretty babies are absolutely loaded with beneficial nutrients and medicinal properties…
Maitake is a really delicious mushroom to try. It’s good food that’s rich in vitamins, minerals and amino acids—it’s a proven immune booster and has been the subject of many studies that demonstrate abilities to stimulate the immune systems of breast cancer patients and immune cells like Natural Killer cells (aka NK cells which respond to inhibit tumor formation). Research into Maitake also has shown that this medicinal mushroom can induce aptosis (the process of programmed cell death) in various cancer cell lines as well as inhibit the growth of various types of cancer cells.
What else can Maitake do? Well, researchers have also indicated that whole maitake has the ability to regulate blood pressure, glucose, insulin, and both serum and liver lipids, such as cholesterol, triglycerides, and phospholipids, and it may also be useful for weight loss and diabetes (it has been shown to have a hypoglycemic effect).
Don’t have access to Maitake? Try this Maitake Tacos recipe with Shiitake or Portobello mushrooms instead.
Makes: 4–6 tacos
Large glass baking dish
2 skillets or frying pans
Pot with steamer
7–8 oz. Maitake Mushrooms (200 grams/4-5 cups/2 blooms)
1 entire shallot, minced
Unrefined, virgin coconut oil
Non-GMO, organic corn tortillas (I love this brand of sprouted ones)
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp coconut aminos (can sub gluten-free tamari, Nama Shoyu or soy sauce)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp Sucanat (can sub honey or any other natural sweetener you like)
1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle powder
6–10 drops Liquid Smoke (optional)
Pinch cayenne pepper
Fresh-cracked black pepper
Fine-ground sea salt
Let’s get started.
1. In a baking dish, whisk together marinade ingredients.
2. Break apart entire bloom of mushroom and place into dish.
Now, some folks prefer to eat only the top “spoon-like” part of the bloom, but I like the meaty heartiness of the whole thing—Chef’s choice here. Give the mushrooms a toss so all sides are covered with marinade. Mushrooms will soak it up like a sponge. Allow maitake to marinate at least 2 hours, overnight if you like (which I like very much!).
3. Heat skillet to medium-high and add 1–2 tsp of coconut oil and minced shallot.
Stir together for 3 minutes and then add mushrooms and remaining marinade. Bring contents to a boil and reduce to simmer, stirring occasionally until marinade reduces and begins to caramelize.
At this point, allow mushrooms to sear in pan for 3–5 minutes before stirring. Repeat a few times until mushrooms are cooked to a caramelized golden brown—10 to 12 minutes. Season generously with fresh cracked pepper and sea salt to taste.
Remove from heat and set aside (or place in a 175°F oven to keep warm).
4. Brush tortillas with coconut oil (an optional step) and warm 2–3 minutes on each side in a frying pan heated to medium. If you have a gas range, for that charred tortilla goodness, using tongs you can warm tortillas over a flame until soft and toasty.
5. Fill tortillas with mushrooms and toppings. Enjoy!
Now, I want to hear from YU. Have you tried maitake before? Tell us with a comment below.