Enoki is a skinny, long mushroom that can be bought in bundles. They have been growing wild in Eastern Asia and North America since as early as 800 BCE. They have a mild, slightly fruity taste and were originally cultivated for their long stems, color, and nutrients. The enoki mushroom stands out from other mushrooms because of its crunchiness.
Enoki mushrooms are hard to find in some parts of the world, and they’re considerably more expensive than other mushrooms. Thankfully, there are a few substitutes that are comparable to the enoki mushroom’s flavor and nutritional value. These include portobello mushrooms, button mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, and cremini mushrooms.
1. Portobello Mushroom
The portobello mushroom is dark in color and very thick. Oftentimes it’s used as a substitute for meat because of its powerful taste. Portobello mushrooms are most similar to the stout mushrooms you see a lot at the store. This is because they’re both from the Agaricus family of fungi.
They’re beloved by vegans and vegetarians because of their meaty texture. To pick the best portobello mushrooms in the store, look for caps that are firm with little to no discoloration. Clean and dry gills (shape on the bottom of mushroom resemblance of ribs) is another good sign that you’re picking some good ones.
In fact, portobello mushrooms are the exact same type of “regular” mushroom you likely see the most frequently. The only difference is their age. Button mushrooms are the babies, cremini mushrooms are teenagers, and portobellos are the full grown adults.
Mushrooms lose their water content as they age, making portobello the most flavorful of the Agaricus Bisporus. Portobello mushrooms also have a high nutritional value; with antioxidants as well as potassium and phosphorus. One portobello mushroom can contain more potassium than a banana.
2. Button Mushroom
Button mushrooms are the same type of mushroom as portobellos. They’re white in color and harvested near the beginning of their growing process. This makes them the youngest of the Agaricus family. Because they’re younger, their flavor is more mild. Whereas the portobello mushroom is more pungent because of its older age.
They are small and white, which makes them an easy addition to meals. One of their most redeeming qualities is that they can very easily be sauteed or grilled. This is why you probably buy button mushrooms for dinner–they’re one of the easiest to work with.
3. Cremini Mushrooms
So, we have portobello mushrooms as the “adult” of the Agaricus fungi family, and button mushrooms are the babies. This leaves cremini mushrooms to be the “teenager.” They’re unfortunately overshadowed by their cousins, but they have a great versatility.
Their flavor is described as earthy, and since they’re right in the middle of their related mushrooms, it’s not too bland nor too pungent. They become tender when cooked which gives them a meaty texture that’s a great addition to stews, soups, and pastas.
If you’re someone who eats mushrooms often, you’ve probably heard cremini mushrooms be referred to as “baby Bellas.” This is because they literally are baby ‘Bellos!
Differences Between the Agaricus Bisporus Family
Agaricus Bisporus mushrooms make up 90% of the mushroom production in the United States. These three mushrooms are related, but their differences are still noticeable. The portobello mushroom is dark brown in color and has a strong taste.
Button mushrooms are plain white, and because they have a higher water content, their flavor is more mild. Cremini mushrooms are somewhere in between, with a strong earthy taste but not one that is overpowering in a recipe.
Assuming you’re shopping and all three of these are available to you, which one to get just depends on your personal preference. If you want your dish to have a noticeable added flavor, go for the portobellos. If you’re looking for a nutritious appetizer with a mild taste, opt for the cremini or button mushrooms.
4. Shiitake Mushrooms
Shiitake mushrooms are very popular in recipes for Asian food. So, if your recipe calls for enoki mushrooms, these also make for a perfect replacement. They’re known for having a meaty texture and savory taste.
The native home of the shiitake mushroom is in East Asia, but they can usually be found in any grocery store nowadays. They have a relatively long shelf life, too–lasting for up to two weeks when stored whole in the fridge. In the freezer, they can last as long as a year!
They are also a good source of fiber, protein, and Vitamins B and C. Compounds in shiitake mushrooms can help boost the immune system and may make cholesterol levels lower. They’ve been used medicinally for centuries. Today, shiitake mushrooms are enjoyed all over the world for their rich flavor.
5. Oyster Mushrooms
The name for oyster mushrooms came about due to their shell-like appearance. Their color can vary greatly between white, yellow, pink, and brown. Their flavor profile and nutritional value are both impressive. Some people say they have a slight salty flavor that’s reminiscent of seafood. Generally their flavor is best compared to that of the button mushroom.
Oyster mushrooms are also very healthy. They have anti-inflammatory properties and contain plenty of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. When used in cooking, they’re most commonly a part of a soup or stir fry. Many people also like to add them to salads, or roast them and eat plainly for a snack.
Because of the enoki mushroom’s unique shape, they can be somewhat difficult to find, and expensive at that. Thankfully, plenty of other mushrooms mimic the taste of the enoki mushroom. When used in a recipe, your dinner guests won’t even know the difference.
Choosing what substitute to use for enoki mushrooms can be difficult, though, because of the plethora of options. It really boils down to your personal preference. If you like mushrooms to have a very pungent taste, portobellos are your go-to. If you prefer a milder flavor, opt for the button mushrooms.
For anywhere between the tastes of pungent and mild, shiitake, cremini, and oyster mushrooms are your best bet. They’re flavorful enough for a healthy snack or a topping for a salad. Whichever you choose, mushrooms have a great nutritional value that helps you get your daily fiber and protein in. And when it comes down to choosing a replacement for enoki mushrooms, any one of these will satisfy your taste buds and your body.1.