Dried shiitake mushroom is also known as Chinese mushrooms. It is a very popular Chinese ingredient. We will introduce this lovely magic umani ingredient with a recipe to transfer the taste to a yummy Chicken Soup.
What's Shiitake Mushrooms
Shiitake mushrooms, native to East Asia, have been a cornerstone of culinary traditions for centuries. Recognized for their rich, umami flavor and meaty texture, they transform ordinary dishes into gourmet experiences.
When dried, their flavors intensify, making them a favorite choice for soups and broths.
Why drying shiitake mushrooms
While fresh shiitake mushrooms offer their own unique texture and mild flavor, the drying process turns these fungi into flavor powerhouses. Not only is the taste enhanced, but drying also offers practical benefits that make it a favorite among many chefs and home cooks.
Chinese people always believe that dried shiitake mushrooms taste much better than fresh ones that's because there are lots of chemicals that happen during the drying process. Following are some of the theories behind it.
- Concentration of Compounds: As water is removed from the mushroom during the drying process, the flavors become concentrated. This makes dried shiitakes more potent in taste, offering a richer umami profile.
- Development of Guanylate: The drying process increases the levels of guanylate, a compound responsible for the umami flavor. This complements the naturally occurring glutamate in the mushrooms, further intensifying the taste.
- Maillard Reaction: Though not as pronounced as in roasted or grilled foods, the drying process can cause some degree of the Maillard reaction. This is a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that imparts a deeper flavor and color to foods.
There are also a lot of benefits to drying the shiitake mushrooms
Extended Shelf Life: Drying shiitakes effectively removes moisture, preventing microbial growth and spoilage. This allows the mushrooms to be stored for much longer periods than their fresh counterparts.
Easier to store: dried shiitake mushrooms are much easier to store than fresh ones.
Versatility in Cooking: Dried shiitakes can be rehydrated and used similarly to fresh ones, or they can be ground into a powder and used as a seasoning.
Dried Shiitake Mushrooms Purchasing Tips
Following are some of the tips for purchasing high-quality dried shiitake mushrooms.
Of course! Choosing high-quality dried shiitake mushrooms ensures you get the best of their concentrated flavors and benefits. Here's what to look out for:
Check the Cap Appearance:
The caps should be uniformly dark brown and free from any discolorations, spots, or white moldy patches. Opt for whole caps rather than broken pieces for more consistent rehydration and cooking results.
Generally, thicker caps indicate a better quality as they rehydrate to a meatier texture. Thinner caps might become too soft or even disintegrate during the rehydration process.
Smell the Aroma:
Quality dried shiitakes will have a deep, earthy, and woody aroma. Avoid those with a musty or off smell, as this could indicate poor drying practices or potential spoilage.
Feel the Texture:
High-quality dried shiitakes should be hard and crisp. They should snap easily when bent and not feel rubbery or pliable.
How to hydrate dried shiitake mushrooms
Proper hydration of dried shiitake mushrooms is essential to maximize their flavor and texture. Here's a detailed section on how to do it:
Washing: Gently wash the dried shiitake mushrooms to remove any dirt on the surface.
Soaking: you can either soak with cold water or warm water.
- Cover the mushrooms completely with cold water, ensuring they're submerged. You can place a small plate or weight on top to keep them from floating.
- Let them soak for 1 or 2 hours until well expanded. This method ensures the mushrooms hydrate slowly, retaining their texture and shape.
If you're short on time, you can use hot water to speed up the rehydration process. Let the shiitake mushroom soak in warm water for 20 to 30 minutes. Check for tenderness. Some thicker mushrooms might need a bit more time.
Clean again: after the shiitake mushroom is well hydrated, wash the mushrooms again to remove any dirt hidden.
Reserve the Liquid: The soaking liquid from the mushrooms will be flavorful and can be used in various dishes like soups, stews, or sauces.
If you're planning to use the soaking liquid, strain it through a fine sieve or cheesecloth to remove any impurities.
If you are a dried shiitake mushroom like me, here are some of the important tips for storing your shiitake mushrooms.
Use Air-tight containers: transfer the mushrooms from their original packaging to an airtight container or resealable plastic bag. This helps prevent moisture from entering, which could lead to mold growth or reduce the mushroom's quality.
Place in cool and dark places: Always store dried shiitake mushrooms in a cool and dark location. Excessive heat and light can degrade the quality of the mushrooms over time.
Check Regularly: Every once in a while, check the stored mushrooms for any signs of moisture, mold, or off smells. If any of these are detected, remove the affected mushrooms immediately to prevent further contamination.
Dried shiitake mushrooms can be kept up for 2 years in good condition.
How to make a delicious chicken and mushroom soup
Add a small amount of oil to a pot, fry chicken chunks with ginger until the chicken is slightly seared.
Add rehydrated dried shiitake mushrooms, hot boiling water, and the mushroom liquid. I will recommend adding 4 scallion whites. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 1 hour.
Add salt and fresh shiitake mushrooms if you are using, and continue simmer for another 15 minutes.
Sprinkle chopped green onion before serving.
Chicken and Shiitake Mushroom Soup
- whole chicken
- 1.5 L hot boiling water
- 500 ml liquid for hydrated the chicken
- 2 tbsp. vegetable cooking oil
- 20 dried shitake mushroom , if you use larger sizes, use 10 or 12
- One piece of ginger
- 10 whole white pepper
- 4 scallion whites
- 3 tbsp. salt
Hydrate shiitake mushroom
- wash the dried shiitake mushrooms firstly and then add enough warm water to cover. Soak it for 20 to 30 minutes until the mushrooms are well explaneded. Clean again to remove any possible dirts and strain the liquid for later use.
Fry the chicken
- Choose organic chicken, cut the chicken into chunks and when well cleaned.
- Fry the chicken: add 2 tablespoons of oil and fry the chicken chunks with ginger until slightly browned. This will enhance the flavor of the soup.
- When the chicken meat is well seared, add hot boiling water, white pepper, shiitake mushroom liquid and scallion white.
- Bring it to a boiling and then simmer for 1 hour. You can also use instant pot to fasten the process.
- Optional: add 3-4 flower cut fresh shiitake mushrooms for a better looking only. And continue simmer for 15 minutes.
Seasoning and Serve
- Add salt to taste and serve with chopped green onions sprinkled on top
FAQ about dried shiitake mushrooms
Dried shiitake mushrooms have a concentrated flavor, giving dishes a more robust umami profile. The drying process also enhances certain flavor compounds, making them ideal for soups, broths, and stews.
Stored properly in a cool, dark place and in an airtight container, dried shiitake mushrooms can last up to a year. For optimal flavor, it's recommended to use them within 6-12 months.
Yes! Shiitake mushrooms are a source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They've been linked to immune system support, and heart health benefits, and have been used in traditional medicine for various purposes.
Absolutely! Shiitake mushroom powder can be a fantastic umami-rich seasoning. Just ensure the mushrooms are completely dry before grinding.
Yes, the soaking water is full of flavor and can be used as a base for soups, stews, or sauces. Just be sure to strain it to remove any impurities.
Opt for thicker dried shiitake caps, as they rehydrate to a meatier texture. Also, ensure you don't over-soak them; sticking to the recommended soaking time helps maintain a good texture.
Dried shiitake mushrooms can be a lovely ingredient in your soups and stews. When well stored, it can be kept up for 1 year. Dried shiitake mushrooms, with their profound flavor intensity and long shelf life, stand as a testament to the brilliance of traditional preservation methods. I hope you will love this ingredient and make some brilliant creations.