Put These Soy Sauce Pickled Shiitakes on Everything

Put These Soy Sauce Pickled Shiitakes on Everything

I first had juicy, sweet-salty soy pickled shiitake mushrooms in the Kyoto train station as part of a vegetarian bento meal with soba noodles, tofu, and vegetables. I was so taken with their tangy, funky flavor and meaty chew that I started making them on repeat when I got back from Japan. 

There is always a jar of them in my fridge to top rice bowls, add to salads, or even as an add-in for chicken meatballs, meatloaf, or as a pre-dinner drinking snack. A tiny amount of work and these quickles stand at the ready in my fridge as a umami bomb whenever I need a little savory hit in a dish. 

How To Make Pickled Shiitake Mushrooms

Start with large, good quality dried shiitake mushrooms with thick caps. You’ll find the best selection and prices at Asian markets. I find the “gourmet” dried shiitake mushrooms in grocery stores tend to be puny and overpriced. 

Soak the mushrooms in boiling hot water until they soften–this makes it easier to snip off the tough stems and cut them into bite-size pieces. You’ll also use some of the soaking liquid to make the brine. 

Next you simmer them in a brine with everyday soy sauce (nothing fancy needed here), sugar, and a vinegar of your choice. I use Chinese black vinegar, which tastes similar to English-style malt vinegar, but you can use white or sherry wine vinegar or even apple cider vinegar if you like. I add aromatics including sliced ginger, whole coriander seeds, and yellow mustard seeds for additional flavor. 

How To Use Pickled Shiitake Mushrooms

They’ll be ready to eat in one day and will last for at least a month. Try them on rice bowls or ramen, slivered in cucumber salads, in fried rice, or as a happy hour snack served with toothpicks alongside dry cocktails, a nice sake-based martini comes to mind.  

Tips for Making Pickled Shiitake Mushrooms

  • How to select shiitake mushrooms—Choose large, thick-capped dried shiitake mushrooms, the best ones will have a white star-like pattern on the caps. Look for them at Asian markets. 
  • Make it gluten free—To make the recipe gluten-free, substitute gluten free tamari such as San-J.
  • Add heat—To make spicy pickles, add a small, thinly sliced serrano chile to the jar and shake to evenly distribute once cooled. 

Make Ahead

These pickles can be made up to 1 month in advance.

“All I can say is WOW! These pickled shiitakes were intensely delicious. I love the juicy, salty-sweet flavor and the pop and crunch of the flavorful mustard and coriander seeds. Next time I make these, I’ll add Sichuan peppercorns for a little heat.” —Diana Andrews

Soy-Pickled Shiitake Mushrooms/Tester Image A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups boiling water

  • 2 cups (2 1/2 ounces or 70 grams) dried shiitake mushrooms 

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce

  • 1/2 cup Chinese black vinegar, or vinegar of your choice (see headnote) 

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger, about quarter-sized in diameter, peeled and sliced 

  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds

  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds

  • 1 teaspoon fine salt

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients to make soy pickled shiitake mushrooms

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Fill a 4-cup glass measuring cup or medium bowl with 2 1/2 cups boiling water. Add 2 cups (2 1/2 ounces) dried shiitake mushrooms to the water. Use a small dish or bowl that fits into the measuring cup to weigh down the mushrooms. Set aside until soft, 20 to 30 minutes. 

    A glass measuring cup with water and shiitake mushrooms, with a small plate weighing down the mushrooms

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Remove the mushrooms from the steeping liquid (save the liquid). Snip off the mushroom stems with scissors and discard or save and use in vegetable stock. Cut the mushroom caps into halves or slices.

    A cutting board with soaked shiitake mushrooms with the stems trimmed, cut in half

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Pour 1 cup of the steeping liquid into a small saucepan (about 2 quarts), avoiding the grit at the bottom of the measuring cup. Add the mushrooms, 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/2 cup Chinese black vinegar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced, 2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds, 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, and 1 teaspoon fine salt to the pan. 

    A sauce pan with the soaked and chopped shiitake mushrooms, soy sauce, Chinese black vinegar, sliced ginger, mustard seeds, coriander seeds and salt

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is reduced slightly and the mushrooms are softer, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

    A pot with cooked down shiitake musrooms and thickened soy-mixture,

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the mushrooms to a clean pint jar. Pour enough cooking liquid over the mushrooms to cover them.

    A jar of cooked shiitake mushrooms and cooking liquid

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  7. Cover with a lid and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.

    A sealed jar of soy sauce-pickled shiitake mushrooms

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

How To Store

The jar of mushrooms can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. The brine can be used again to make one more batch of pickled mushrooms. 

Feeling Adventurous? Try This:

  • Add spice—Make the pickles spicy by adding sliced serrano chile. 
  • Change up the flavor profile—Instead of mustard and coriander seeds, add star anise, cinnamon, fennel seeds, cloves, and Sichuan peppercorns for a five-spice variation.
  • Use a different vinegar—Instead of Chinese black vinegar, use apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar.

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