Chinese dried mushrooms (also called black mushrooms, dried shiitake mushrooms) have an intense meaty flavor that enhances the flavor of soups, stir-fries, and braised dishes. However, first the dried mushrooms must be rehydrated. This is true even if you’re planning to use the dried mushrooms in a soup or broth: besides giving them a plumper texture, soaking the dried mushrooms helps remove any particles of dirt. Here are simple steps showing how to rehydrate Chinese dried mushrooms:
1. Place the dried mushrooms in a bowl, with warm water to cover. (Note:You will probably need to place a small plate, lid from a pot, or other item on top of the bowl to keep the mushrooms from floating).
2. Soak the Chinese dried mushrooms in the warm water for about 30 – 45 minutes, until softened. (The exact soaking time will depend on the thickness of the caps).
In a hurry? Soak the dried mushrooms in hot water for 15 – 30 minutes.
Got more time? Using cold water helps the dried mushrooms retain more flavor. However, you will need to soak them for 1 – 2 hours or, even better, overnight.
3. Squeeze the excess water out of the mushrooms. Cut off the stems and thinly slice the mushrooms (or prepare as called for in the recipe).
4. What to do with the leftover soaking liquid: The liquid from soaking the dried mushrooms can be used to enhance the flavor of soup or braising liquid, or added to stir-frying vegetables to prevent them from drying out. It also makes a great vegetarian/vegan friendly substitute for chicken stock in recipes. Strain the liquid through a mesh strainer to remove any grit or impurities before using.
Tip: Don’t throw out the cut mushroom stems – they’re a great way to add extra flavor to soup. Just seal in a plastic bag and freeze until needed.
Chinese Mushrooms Recipes