Bursting with flavour, and meaty in texture, dried mushrooms are the perfect addition to any dish. Whether you’re a meat-free foodie looking for the next ingredient to experiment with, or someone with an all-inclusive palate who just loves full tastes, dried mushrooms can offer that injection of concentrated flavour.
Take a look at our guide to dried mushrooms to find out how to start introducing them into your cooking.
Which Dried Mushrooms Are Best To Cook With?
First things first, you need to decide what variety of dried mushroom you’d like to cook with. As each variety suits a different purpose, it’s worth taking a look at how they can be used to flavour different dishes.
Shiitake mushrooms are some of the most popular dried mushrooms on the market, as they work well in an array of dishes. This variety of mushroom tastes amazing as a stand out ingredient, as well as an addition to stocks, gravies and stir-fries.
Alternatively, mixed dried mushrooms are excellent for the occasions when you want to add some texture but with slightly less full flavour. These mushrooms still pack a punch of umami richness, but they are much better suited to stews and noodle broths.
For something very special, Morel mushrooms are gold standard in mushrooms. The perfect companion to a rich mushroom and white wine risotto, or a great addition to pork cutlets or beef steak. The Morel mushroom is a highly-prized woodland variety that looks and tastes amazing.
On the other hand, dried Tea Tree Mushrooms are perfect if you’re looking for a woody and earthy flavoured mushroom that holds its shape nicely. They are ideal for adding depth to stir fries and braised meat dishes.
Last but not least, Porcini mushrooms are a firm favourite with French and Italian chefs. These little mushrooms get their name from the Italian for ‘piglet’ because of their little plump cups that can be tossed straight into salads, broths and stews (after rehydration of course - but more on that later!). And in French they’re called ‘cep.
How Do You Rehydrate Dried Mushrooms?
Now you’ve chosen which dried mushrooms you’d like to cook with, the next thing you need to do is ensure that they are rehydrated.
One thing to watch out for is sand in your dried mushrooms! Mushrooms are often grown in sandy soil, and so can have some sandy residue even when dried. There’s a trade off for producers -- if the mushrooms are thoroughly washed before drying, they’ll lose some flavour -- but if not, a little sand might remain. Often the more premium dried mushrooms will have more sand!
- Place mushrooms in a small saucepan, and cover with plenty of hot water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 7 minutes. Whole dried mushrooms may take longer, just follow the instructions on their packaging.
- Lift out the mushrooms with a skimmer or slotted spoon, and rinse in several changes of water.
- Once rehydrated, if you're not using them straight away, place them in the fridge to cook with them later the same day.
This water may well be richly flavoured from the mushrooms, but it may also be sandy! If you’d like to use it as a stock just make sure you strain it first through a very fine muslin, leaving any visible residue behind in a bowl.
If you’re creating stock, gravy or risotto, this flavoursome water can then be used to create a base for your liquid instead of plain water.
How Can You Cook With Dried Mushrooms?
Now you know how to select and rehydrate dried mushrooms, why not take a look at some recipes to give you some inspiration?
Perfect for vegetarians cooks, this recipe is a super easy store cupboard supper. All the main ingredients are dried, yet this doesn’t take away from the full, delicious flavour. A great way to ease yourself into cooking with dried mushrooms.
There aren’t many dishes that can compete with the comfort and freshness of a carbonara. This exquisite recipe uses the traditional method of tossing pasta with eggs and cheese but instead of cream or bacon, it relies on dried mushrooms to give depth of flavour. A summer supper winner!
Trendy, tasty and wonderfully delicious, this recipe will be your best friend when you need a quick recipe for a dinner party. It’s a rich dish that uses wild mixed mushrooms to flavour and a little truffle oil for that extra splash of luxury.
After a stage as a chef at a London Michelin-starred restaurant Nicola became obsessed with seeking the best flavours from around the world. She started Sous Chef in 2012, and is always sharing her knowledge of ingredients and writing recipes to showcase those products. Learning from the products, Sous Chef's suppliers and her travels, Nicola has written the majority of the recipes on the Sous Chef website, all of which are big on flavour.