Dried shiitake mushrooms can easily add deep savory flavor, umami, to dishes. I like to think of them as healthy little punches of flavor since they contain no fat, and even vegans can eat them.
While fresh shiitake mushrooms are just as delicious, they can be harder to find, so having dried shiitake mushrooms stocked in your pantry means that you always have a flavorful ingredient at your fingertips. They’re easily found at Asian grocery stores and can last for months, maybe even years, if stored in an airtight container in a cool place or the refrigerator.
I reach for dried shiitake mushrooms when making Chinese sticky rice or a Japanese or Chinese soup or broth, and when I need another ingredient to add to a stir-fry vegetable dish.
But the best part about these dried mushrooms? Since you have to rehydrate them in hot water before they can be used, the mushroom soaking liquid that you’re left with is a tasty bonus ingredient! Don’t waste that liquid — use it in the place of chicken broth or as the base of a sauce.
When I’m out of dried shiitake mushrooms, it’s practically a kitchen emergency. I use them all the time in East Asian cooking to amp up umami goodness, whether it’s in a stir-fry, soup, dumpling filling, or a tofu dish. In Vietnamese, they’re called nam dong co
kho or nam huong kho by southern and northern Viet speakers, respectively. The mushrooms in dried form are most often used in my house so we drop the “kho” (dried) when we refer to them. Shiitake mushrooms are typically added during the cooking process. I’ve never eaten them raw. (Have yo
When you can, head to an Asian market or Chinese herbal shop. You’ll get the best selection and price. If there are special deals, chances are they’re displayed as end caps. But you’ll find a bigger variety in the aisle where dried vegetables and beans are shelved.
Study your options and consider buying a decent amount. After all, dried shiitake mushroom keep for a very long time (probably years but I use mine up fast). I usually purchase a one-pound package of good shiitakes for $150 to $200. Note that premium boxes of mushrooms make great gifts. Gift yourself or an avid cook.
Before buying, consider the mushroom cap thickness and check for fissures (see above). Thick mushrooms with deep white fissures on the caps tend to have the most flavor. They may be labeled hana, or “flower” mushroom, a term Japanese packagers use to signal the highest grade. Second-grade mushrooms are also thick but have fewer fissures. The downside to the thick-capped mushroom is that they take longer to rehydrate. You have to plan ahead, or take shortcut measures like the ones below.
Once home, I open the package and dump the dried shiitake mushrooms (along with the silica pack, if included) into a plastic container. I keep the container in the cupboard within easy reach because I use them often. Other cooks prefer to freeze their dried shiitakes. I suppose it depends on humidity where you live. Where do you stand?
Dried shiitakes require soaking before you can use them. One of the things I recently started doing is removing the stem beforehand. I snap them off with my fingers or hack them off with a cleaver. The stems can be used for stock later on. Just toss them back into your container
Dating back thousands of years the dried shiitake has been used in medicine and cooking throughout Eastern Asia. The mushroom was often ground up or used in teas and prescribed for respiratory infections, to improve blood circulation, and to prevent aging. The fact that it tasted so otherworldly that it was thought to be a gift from the gods made it a medicine that many were happy to take.
Dried Tea Shiitake Mushroom are lighter in color. This type of shiitake is cultivated on blocks of sawdust and sawdust pellets in better quality control. It is a great alternative at reasonable price with almost same nutritious value and comparable savory, earthy and chewy texture to the pricey shiitake mushroom.
The shiitake is a mushroom that is always preferred dried over fresh. Dried and reconstituted, the mushroom has a far more intense flavor and the broth can be used for deglazing pans and adding to soup stocks. The woody stems are often discarded before drying as they’re usually inedible. The flavor is incredibly savory and umami-centric with hints of beef.