CHINESE DRIED BLACK MUSHROOMS
These dried mushrooms have an intense meaty flavor that enhances the flavor of soups, stir-fries, and braised dishes. The many different varieties range in color from light to dark brown and in pattern from smoother to a more flowery pattern. Shiitake mushrooms, as the name implies, is a Japanese variety that have a meatier and thicker texture with a flowery pattern. Nowadays, I think names are used interchangeably, and only a fine connoisseur of mushrooms could probably tell or care about the fine differences within the black mushrooms category. In Chinese cooking, dried mushrooms are favored over fresh, as the drying process really enhances their flavor, similar to dried vs. fresh herbs. These mushrooms are used in a range of dishes and usually are an “accompanying” ingredient (there’s an equivalent phrase in Chinese, but we won’t bore you with semantics). The mushrooms really add body and meatiness to vegetarian and vegan dishes like Braised Tofu with Vegetables.
To prepare these, just rehydrate them in warm water for at least 15 minutes, even if you plan on using them in a stew, soup, or stock. Soaking the mushrooms helps remove any dried and crusted bits of dirt that clung to the mushrooms during harvesting and drying. You may also want to remove the stems, as the drying process can render them a bit too woodsy for a stir fry or stew (but definitely leave them on if you’re just making a stock or soup!). Here are simple steps showing how to re-hydrate Chinese dried mushrooms:
1. Place the dried mushrooms in a bowl with enough warm water to submerge them. We almost always use a small plate on top of the bowl to keep the mushrooms submersed in the liquid. If you are in a rush or forgot to soak your mushrooms in advance, using hot water will definitely speeds things up.
2. Soak the mushrooms in the warm water for about 30 to 45 minutes, until softened. More soaking time may be needed depending upon the size of the mushrooms and how long they have been dried. They should be completely soft to the touch. You also don’t want to over-soak the mushrooms, or they can become mushy. If you are soaking them overnight, you can actually remove most of the water and just let them sit, covered, to re-hydrate slowly without getting too waterlogged.
3. When you’re ready to use them, squeeze the excess water out of the mushrooms, and then follow the directions in your recipe!
4. But wait, don’t dump that liquid down the drain quite yet. The liquid from soaking the dried mushrooms can be used to enhance the flavor of soup or braising liquid. It also makes a great vegetarian/vegan friendly substitute broth if you don’t mind the strong flavor. Be sure to strain the liquid using a fine mesh strainer or a coffee filter if you want to add it to a very clear broth.
5. The stems are great for soups so don’t throw them away. I like leaving the stems on for the extra fiber, but if you do this, at least trim the bottom of the stem, as that portion is usually driest and carries the most dirt.
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|Serving Size: 1 Serving (140g)|
|Recipe Makes: 1 Servings|
|Calories from Fat: 1 (3%)|
|Amt Per Serving||% DV|
|Total Fat 0.1g||0 %|
|Saturated Fat 0g||0 %|
|Monounsaturated Fat 0g|
|Polyunsanturated Fat 0.1g|
|Cholesterol 0mg||0 %|
|Sodium 8.4mg||0 %|
|Potassium 627.2mg||17 %|
|Total Carbohydrate 5.8g||2 %|
|Dietary Fiber 0.8g||3 %|
|Sugars, other 4.9g|
|Protein 3.5g||5 %|
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Calories per serving: 38
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