Maitake mushrooms (Grifola fondosa) are prized for their rich, woodsy flavor and meaty texture. They are also called Hen of the Woods because their feathery rosettes resemble the ruffled plumage on a speckled hen. They are popular as an ingredient in stir-fries, soups, and stews or they can be eaten raw as a snack or in salads. They are also used to make tonics, teas, and herbal extracts that are reputed to have powerful healing properties. Maitakes have been used by  practitioners of Asian medicine for thousands of years to promote health and longevity. 

Maitakes are native to the mountain forests of Northeastern Japan. They are now being cultivated, making them reliably available and less expensive. I can buy them in the fresh produce section of my local grocery stores year round. 

Maitake Mushroom Fries
Healthful fries? This may be as close as we can get.

Maitake mushrooms, allow about 2 ounces per serving
Cooking oil or fat for deep frying
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat fat or oil in deep fryer to 350 degrees F. Preheat oven to low. Place a rack in a pan and keep nearby to drain mushrooms.

Rinse mushrooms, drain, and blot dry. Separate mushroom clusters into individual fans. Slice thicker pieces and stems so they are similar in thickness.

Add mushrooms in small batches to hot fat and fry for 15 to 20 seconds until crisp. Dip out with a spider and drain on rack. Place pan with rack and fried mushrooms in warm oven until all are done. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Nutrition data for 2 ounces raw weight.

Cal: 20.8; Protein: 1g; Fat: 0.2g, Total Carbs: 4g; Fiber: 2g; Net Carbs: 2g
(Data is for mushrooms only. There will be a small amount of fat from the frying oil.)

~Maitakes will keep refrigerated for about a week. For longer storage, clean, slice, spread on a tray, and freeze. When frozen solid, place in a plastic bag to use later.

~If you have never eaten maitakes, eat only a small amount at first, as allergies have been reported.

~Read an article from The American Cancer Society on the research into the medicinal value and safety of an extract of maitatke mushrooms here:

Fresh maitakes are available by mail from Oregon Mushrooms:

Also available fresh from Earthly Delights at

Dried Maitakes can be bought online and in stores. (I haven’t tried frying the dry ones.)

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Maitake Mushroom image at top from Wikipedia. 

(c) 2014, Judy Barnes Baker,

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Judy Barnes Baker

The working title for my first book was, “You’ll Never Know What You Are Missing.” It summed up my goal: to make eating for health synonymous with eating for pleasure. Once you discover the secret, you will find that the very best food for weight management, longevity, the treatment and prevention of disease, and over-all health and happiness is also the most sumptuous, satisfying, and indulgent way of eating the world has to offer. You are invited to the feast. Enjoy!
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