This hefty, layered fungi can grow to more than 45 kilograms (99 pounds) giving them the title ‘the king of mushrooms’. They can be found sitting at the base of oak, elm and maple trees in China, Japan and parts of the US. It has been eaten and used for its (not proven) medicinal properties for many years in China and Japan, where its name means ‘dancing mushroom’.
Like other varieties of mushrooms, maitake are noted for their B vitamin content and for being a non-animal source of vitamin D. In contrast to their delicate, feathery texture, they have a strong, earthy taste and can significantly enrich the flavours of other foods in various types of dishes. They are delicious cooked with olive oil, or as a featured ingredient in omelettes, hot pots, stir-fries, stews and sauces.