© Denzil Green
Nameko is the second most popular mushroom in Japan after Shiitake. In the wild, it grows on the trunks of dead beech trees. It is also cultivated.
Nameko Mushrooms have round caps that will be from 3/4 of an inch to 2 inches wide (2 to 5 cm.) Their colour will range from orangey to amber. The stem is buff coloured.
The mushrooms have a firm texture. When cooked, they go “gelatinous” or “viscous”, as, for instance, Okra does. For this reason, they are mostly used in soups, where they act as a natural thickener.
Outside Japan, they are available canned, though they will be expensive.
The gelatinous goo in the cans is the juice from the mushrooms. You use both the mushroom and the liquid in soups.