Fresh mushrooms don’t keep well enough for occasional use and can be expensive. Dried mushrooms fix these issues and are usually more flavorful.
Here’s the stats for a half ounce of dried shiitake mushrooms:
There’s a vast amount of varieties available. In the US, Chinese markets offer a good combination of availability and cost. At around $5-$15/lb you’re likely to find:
- sometimes just labeled “black mushroom”
- usually available in a few subvarieties 2
- chewy texture and meaty taste
- similar taste to shiitake, but a bit less chewy
- often a bit cheaper
- mild taste and surprisingly crunchy texture (supposedly very similar to jellyfish)
- almost entirely fiber
Most recipes will call for soaking the mushrooms prior to using them. But, this can be skipped if you’re cooking them in water – just be sure to rinse them off beforehand.
Oyster mushrooms are my current favorite. They’ve got a nice meaty flavor like shiitake or portabello, but are faster to cook because they’re not as thick. I often include them with split red lentils, which have a similar cooktime.
If you find a good price, feel free to buy in bulk. They’ll last months if kept cool and dry, and can be stored in the freezer to keep them even longer.
shiitake mushrooms (dried) $7/lb (local chinese market) ↩
Michelin Guide: hunting for the best dried shiitake mushrooms ↩