Varieties of mushrooms typically found in cuisine includes white button, portobello, oyster, cremini and chanterelle. Additionally, cooks frequently use hen of the wood, shiitake and porcini species in recipes.
The most common mushroom found in the United States is the white button, a variety with blander flavor but an almost universal application. Diners eat white button mushrooms either raw or cooked. Portobello mushrooms, which are thick, big-capped mushrooms, are widely used in Italian cuisine, and are ideal for both marinating and grilling. Cremini are essentially young portobellos and are consequently sometimes called baby bellos by retailers. Shiitake mushrooms, popular in Asian cuisine, possess an earthy, woodsy flavor that intensifies when the mushrooms are dried.
Hen of the wood mushrooms characteristically have a cabbage-shaped cap and a gamy flavor. They are indigenous to areas of both North America and Japan.
Chanterelle mushrooms are more common in European cuisines, particularly Austrian and French, and offer a unique aroma often evocative of apricots. Chefs prize the reddish-brown porcini for its smooth texture and woodsy flavor, and dried specimens easily re-hydrate when immersed in hot water. For those specifically interested in Asian produce, especially Chinese, further mushroom species include indigenous black, forest and straw types.