Photo by Sarah Shatz
We're in the midst of Mushroom Mania in our stores right now, and given the wealth of varieties to choose from, we figured you might need a little mushroom primer to distinguish one cap from another, as well as a few recipes for inspiration. This week, we're talking about dried mushroom varieties. If you prefer to feast on their fresh brethren, check out last Tuesday's post.
Don't let the tough appearance of dried mushrooms stop you from enjoying mushrooms with limited growing seasons year round -- they're all softies at heart. Simply place dried mushrooms in a heat-proof bowl, pour enough boiling water over them to cover completely, and let them bob and soak for about 10 minutes, or until they're soft and completely pliable.
To save the prescious mushroom "stock" you've created, strain mushrooms in a fine mesh sieve (or squeeze them in cheesecloth or a towel) to extract the liquid while leaving the grit behind. Rinse mushrooms to remove any remaining grit, and use as directed.
For a video tutorial, check out this lesson on mushroom rehydration from our cooking cohorts at FOOD52.
Dried mushrooms needn't be rehydrated to enjoy their earthy flavor in recipes -- try pulverizing them in the spice or coffee grinder (or food processor for bigger batches) and mixing them with dried herbs and spices to create a spice rub for steaks and roasts. Dried mushroom powder can also be added to breading mixtures, soups, and sauces. Dust baguette slices with a mixture of ground dried porcinis and sea salt, then drizzle with olive oil and bake for especially elegant crostini. The only trick here is to make sure the mushrooms are extremely dry and brittle -- dehydrate them further on a baking sheet in a low oven if you detect a hint of moisture.
COMMON TYPES OF DRIED MUSHROOMS
Considered by connoisseurs as the most delectable of all mushrooms, it provides richness and depth to seafood, chicken, veal, pork, pasta, and rice dishes. Makes a great pizza topping, too.
Characterized as having pores rather than gills under the caps, the unsavory pores are removed from older mushrooms before cooking. Bolete mushrooms have a short season of about four to five weeks, so having dehydrated boletes available is especially useful. They are delicious breaded and fried.
Funnel-shaped with ridges of gills down the sides and a fruity scent, chanterelles are an excellent source of vitamins C and D. Best cooking method: sautéing.
Prized for adding a sweet, nutty flavor to just about any dish. Both fresh and dried mushrooms are firm and meaty when cooked, and they’re ideal for flavoring stews and stuffings.
A favorite for its delicate woodsy flavor and firm texture, this versatile mushroom stands up well to cooking, including deep frying. It adds rich flavor to pasta sauces.
In the same family as the truffle and offering a smoky, earthy, nutty flavor. Best enjoyed simply (such as sautéed in butter), paired with fish dishes and soups, and used in wine reduction sauces.
Mild and tasty with a pleasant odor when cooked. Adds flavor to stir-fries and character to light cream sauces for fish and chicken dishes.
Known for its nutty-woodsy, sweet, meaty taste and chewy texture. Used fresh and dried in cooking (the dried has enhanced flavor). For stir-fries, risottos, sauces, soups, stews, and stuffings.
Often compared to filet mignon when grilled, roasted, or sautéed because cooking enhances its rich, robust flavor and texture. Cooked portobellos may be stored in the freezer for up to three months.
A versatile flavor booster that complements nearly any cooked dish with its smoky flavor and chewy, meaty texture. In Asia, shiitakes are a symbol of longevity and particularly favored by herbalists.
WHAT'S IN STOCK
Call the store nearest to you to find out if there are any special varieties or blends available. Many of the dried mushrooms we stock are organic, and we also offer items not pictured here, such as dried lobster mushrooms, an orgranic dried house blend (with portabellos and shiitakes), and an organic dried stir-fry blend.
Dried Wild Mushroom Steak Rub
Vegetarian Mushroom Thyme Gravy [FOOD52]
Mushroom Barley Soup [FOOD52]
Porcini and Rosemary Crusted Beef Tenderloin with Port Wine Sauce [FOOD52]
What are your favorite mushrooms varieties and how do you enjoy them? Share your cooking and rehydrating tips in the comments section below!