After rehydrating dried shiitakes in water for two hours, she takes them out of the liquid, removes the stems, and marinates the caps in a little oil and sugar for another hour before using them. (In terms of the temperature of the soaking liquid, Coombes doesn't specify—you can use hot water if you only have 10 or 20 minutes, but room temperature water will better preserve their flavor.)
And if you think that sounds like a long soak, Andrea Nguyenrecommends even more planning ahead: She removes the stems of the shiitakes first, then soaks the caps in water for 8 hours. "Follow this long soak method and the rehydrated mushrooms will be deeply flavored, amazingly firm and velvety when cut," she writes. "A long soak works wonders on cheapie dried shiitakes too!"
For plumper mushrooms with a better texture, marinate in a little oil and sugar for 1 hour before using.
No matter which method you go by, follow these tips, too:
Give the mushrooms a good pre-soak rinse—they're known to be gritty.
And avoid the grit that sinks to the bottom of the flavorful mushroom soaking liquid.
Use that liquid wherever you'd use a flavorful broth—but in moderation (it's concentrated and might overpower your other ingredients).
Wipe your rehydrated mushrooms with a paper towel or clean dish cloth to remove any lingering dirt.
Once your mushrooms are plump and back to their full-sized selves, they're ready to be sautéed, roasted, added to pastas, soups, and risottos, or mixed with cooked fresh mushrooms to give them even more 'shroomy oomph (a.k.a. 'shroomph?). Start here:
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