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The shiitake mushroom is the traditional "black mushroom" of Oriental cuisine. Dried shiitake mushrooms reconstitute very well and are frequently preferred over fresh in many dishes. The meaty flesh of the shiitake imparts its distinctive full-bodied, woodsy flavor to any dish. The convex, cinnamon brown, thick fleshy caps of the shiitake mushroom make a wonderful meat substitute for vegetarians. The meaty flesh of the shiitake is frequently substituted for other "wild mushrooms" in many dishes, but this versatile fungus is suitable for almost any cooking method from grilling to simmering and stir-frying. Many health benefits have been attributed to eating shiitake mushrooms, including strengthening the immune system. Use shiitakes in traditional Asian dishes, in hearty mushroom soups or in savory sauces for meat and poultry.