Chinese dried mushrooms (also called black mushrooms or dried shiitake mushrooms) have an intense meaty flavor that enhances the flavor of soups, stir-fries, and braised dishes. However, the dried mushrooms must first be rehydrated. This is true even if you’re planning to use them in a soup or broth. Besides giving them a plumper texture, soaking the dried mushrooms helps remove any particles of dirt.
Simple Steps for Rehydrating Chinese Dried Mushrooms
- Gently rinse the dried shiitake mushroom with cold water.
- 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 another item on top of the bowl to keep the mushrooms from floating).
- Soak the Chinese dried mushrooms in warm water for about 20 to 30 minutes or until softened. The exact soaking time will depend on the thickness of the caps. The warm water temperature should be roughly the same temperature as bath water.
If you’re in a hurry, soak the dried mushrooms in hot water for 15 to 30 minutes. This is not ideal, because hot water will affect the mushrooms' flavor. After you have softened them in hot water, you will find dried shiitake mushrooms aren’t as aromatic as they usually are.
Cold water is definitely the best way to rehydrate dried shiitake mushrooms as it helps the mushrooms retain all their flavor
What to Do With the Leftover Soaking Liquid
The liquid from soaking the dried mushrooms can be used to enhance the flavor of a soup or braising liquid or it can be 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.
Dried stem-cut shiitake mushrooms