Dried Mushroom Delights

Dried mushrooms come in a host of flavors to enhance most any dish.
In Praise of Dried Mushrooms

Despite their shriveled appearance, dried mushrooms swell into tender, flavorful morsels when soaked in warm water for half an hour. Then rinse, squeeze, and cook them in recipes as you would fresh mushrooms. (They don't work in salads or no-cook recipes.)

Dried mushrooms have a stronger flavor than fresh ones, so use fewer. This helps them go further, which offsets their higher-than-fresh price. Once bought, they can be stored up to six months in a cool, dry place. Look for these delicacies in specialty food shops and some supermarkets.

Oyster: Named for their oyster-shell-like shape, these Asian mushrooms have a delicate flavor. Try them in seafood dishes (especially with scallops), stir-fries, and creamy sauces.

Chanterelle: (shant uh REL) With a golden color, these look like trumpets when rehydrated. Their flavor can vary from spicy and meaty to apricot- or almond-like. Saute in butter for omelets and sauces.

Wood ear: Otherwise known as tree ears, these brown, wrinkly, ruffled mushrooms taste like water chestnuts and have a crisp texture. Use wood ears in Asian dishes or in meat and poultry entrees.

Shiitake: (shee TAH kay) These Japanese mushrooms with large, floppy caps are also called black forest or golden oak mushrooms. Their nutty flavor complements red meats, soups, stews, appetizers, and stir-fries.

Cepe: (sehp) Also called porcini, these Italian mushrooms can range in color from white to reddish brown. Their rich, hazelnut or anise flavor works well in pasta, chicken, and fish dishes.

Morel: The elongated caps of these mushrooms look like sponges with veins. Their rich, meaty flavor is prized in meat and poultry dishes, vegetables, stuffings, soups, and sauces.


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