Packaged Shiitake Mushroom Question

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larry_stewart

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Dec 25, 2006
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Long Island, New York
I always keep a supply of dried shiitakes in my cupboard, as they are frequently used when I cook Chinese food.
When I go to purchase them, there are about 4 or 5 different packages. Most labelled exclusively in Chinese, and a few in just clear bags marked with the price only.

My question is, the packages are similar sized and all seem to weigh about the same. There are subtle differences in the mushrooms ( some a little bigger, some a little plumper ..). They are all whole ( no broken pieces). What would make one package $20 + dollars compared to one of similar size and weight only about $6 dollars? Are there different varieties that a Visually I cant ell the difference? Is it just a branding thing ? Since he packages are all in Chinese, I have nothing to really go by.
 

summer57

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Sep 1, 2020
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Vancouver
. What would make one package $20 + dollars compared to one of similar size and weight only about $6 dollars? Are there different varieties that a Visually I cant ell the difference? Is it just a branding thing ? Since he packages are all in Chinese, I have nothing to really go by.

I can't read Chinese, either, or Japanese, for that matter.
However, the more expensive Chinese mushroom are called 'flower' mushrooms because of the pattern on the caps. They're the same variety as the non-flower versions, but they're... prettier. And also more intact with less breakage.

Perhaps more importantly, the more expensive shiitakes have fewer big thick stems and broken pieces. The mushrooms are just as good, but not as attractive.

Below are examples of a very nice pack of Japanese shiitakes and some Chinese 'flower' mushrooms from an earlier photo i took for hot & sour soup. I don't have any onhand at the moment, but they would have been around the same price as the Japanese shiitakes. Note that the stems have been removed from the Japanese shiitakes, so they'd have less waste and been a much better value.
japanese_musrooms.jpg
flower_mushrooms.jpg
 

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CraigC

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Jan 27, 2011
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I always keep a supply of dried shiitakes in my cupboard, as they are frequently used when I cook Chinese food.
When I go to purchase them, there are about 4 or 5 different packages. Most labelled exclusively in Chinese, and a few in just clear bags marked with the price only.

My question is, the packages are similar sized and all seem to weigh about the same. There are subtle differences in the mushrooms ( some a little bigger, some a little plumper ..). They are all whole ( no broken pieces). What would make one package $20 + dollars compared to one of similar size and weight only about $6 dollars? Are there different varieties that a Visually I cant ell the difference? Is it just a branding thing ? Since he packages are all in Chinese, I have nothing to really go by.

I know this doesn't help with your question, but I think Chinese markets would do more business if they had someone that spoke English to translate. There are products I'm interested in that I have no idea what they are.
 

summer57

Senior Cook
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Sep 1, 2020
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282
Location
Vancouver
I know this doesn't help with your question, but I think Chinese markets would do more business if they had someone that spoke English to translate. There are products I'm interested in that I have no idea what they are.
From my own experience, even though Mandarin (and Punjabi) is the third most spoken language in my area, everyone speaks at least some English.

I often ask advice from other shoppers, as well store staff, when I'm looking for something in particular. Also, food labelling laws in Canada mean that virtually all packaged foods have ingredients listed in English/French.
Again in my experience, people are very receptive to being asked about their cuisine.


I've also learned how to say Please, Thank You, as well as Char Sui in Mandarin lol. I'm sure my pronunciation is terrible but I get a big smile - and giggle, as the case my be.
 

CraigC

Master Chef
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Jan 27, 2011
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6,483
From my own experience, even though Mandarin (and Punjabi) is the third most spoken language in my area, everyone speaks at least some English.

I often ask advice from other shoppers, as well store staff, when I'm looking for something in particular. Also, food labelling laws in Canada mean that virtually all packaged foods have ingredients listed in English/French.
Again in my experience, people are very receptive to being asked about their cuisine.


I've also learned how to say Please, Thank You, as well as Char Sui in Mandarin lol. I'm sure my pronunciation is terrible but I get a big smile - and giggle, as the case my be.

Vancouver, as in BC? I've been there working on a customers yacht (diving program). I have worked with some folks in Mexico that spoke mostly a dead language, Nahuatl (Aztec) still spoken in some areas, however with their Spanish and my small amount of Spanish we managed to understand each other. Chinese (any dialect) seems the people working in these stores aren't really interested in helping others that don't speak the same language. Just my observation.
 

summer57

Senior Cook
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Sep 1, 2020
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Location
Vancouver
Vancouver, as in BC? I've been there working on a customers yacht (diving program). I have worked with some folks in Mexico that spoke mostly a dead language, Nahuatl (Aztec) still spoken in some areas, however with their Spanish and my small amount of Spanish we managed to understand each other. Chinese (any dialect) seems the people working in these stores aren't really interested in helping others that don't speak the same language. Just my observation.

We have definitely had difference experiences with store staff. Perhaps your 'small amount of Spanish', and attempts to communicate made the difference.

I've found that Vancouver's Asian residents -- and shopkeepers -- are polite and helpful, especially when it comes to someone trying to communicate and ask about cuisines.

Did you spend all your time on the yacht? Get out to any of the markets or restaurants in Richmond, for example?
 

dragnlaw

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Feb 16, 2013
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Waterdown, Ontario
I always had good experiences with the Asian market I used to go to in Quebec.

But the funniest one is in the fresh vegetable row. Half the vegies are labeled as to what they are in French (eg. Bok Choy) and which ever Asian language they are (Korean I think).
The other half also have the Asian language and the French is called "Legume" which is the french word for 'vegetable'.
Quote:Also, food labelling laws in Canada mean that virtually all packaged foods have ingredients listed in English/French.
Very helpful... not... especially when you see a vegetable that you've never seen before and want to know what it is.

Larry - send a photo of them to your son and see if he can find out the difference.
In the back of my mind I'm thinking that if those shiitake's are packaged in North America, my first thought would be the name of the company might be "Gouger's Inc." :LOL:
 

thymeless

Senior Cook
Joined
Aug 12, 2006
Messages
327
Google lens. Google translate will do a generally useful job.

High priced dried mushrooms are about the looks and the prestige associated with them culturally. They are often given as gifts. If you're going to use them sliced, which is most uses, go cheap. If you'll use them whole or mostly whole for a fancy meal, the varigated top looks good and speaks to your esteem for guests.
 

Roll_Bones

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Oct 19, 2013
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Southeast US
I would buy dried mushrooms if they were not so expensive. Its hard to shell out big money when they look so "dry"....LOL
 

blissful

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Mar 25, 2008
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Dried mushrooms are mushrooms that have 87% of the water removed, which removes the weight of water. So a 1 ounce of dried mushrooms might give you 7-8-9 ounces of rehydrated mushrooms depending on if you use a kitchen source or a scientific source to do the calculations.

From what I read on the grades of shiitakes:
Japanese are better than chinese.
Thick closed tops are better than thin open tops.
Mushrooms packaged without stems are better than with stems.
Medicinal grade mushrooms are better than most mushrooms.
Better=more expensive.
I mostly use my dried mushrooms powdered for sauces, and small chunks for sauce or gravy. Mushrooms that have been cooked THEN dried, have a mysteriously chocolate smell to them--the ones I've dehydrated and the ones I've bought.
 
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