Cooking with fresh and dried mushrooms
Although the first seasonal mushrooms are pushing up through the soil in the field next door I’m thinking dried mushrooms after enjoying some of the best fungi dishes ever — some with a mixture of fresh and dried mushrooms for awesome flavour.
Most dried porcini mushrooms originate from Italy where they are considered a gourmet treat. Their intense nutty flavour is popular in soups, sauces, meat dishes and on pizzas. Fresh porcini are sometimes found in New Zealand pine forests where they share a symbiotic relationship with the tree roots.
Dried shiitake mushrooms also have powerful flavour and have been a mainstay of Asian cooking for centuries.
Both dried varieties are readily available from Asian grocery stores, delis and most supermarkets. Soak them in hot water for about 30 minutes before use. Squeeze dry and chop — and use the flavoursome soaking water in the same recipe if possible.
Fresh shiitake mushrooms are also available in supermarkets. Their dark brown, meaty caps can withstand long cooking in casseroles or stews. Add a couple to any dish of common mushrooms and note the flavour difference.
Occasionally fresh enoki mushrooms make it to the market. Popular in Japanese cooking, enoki have minute caps and long whitish stems. Sauté gently for about 1 minute and float in clear soups. Or garnish meats and seafood; or use raw in salads.
Mushroom, chilli and herb salad
Serve warm or at room temperature.
500g assorted fresh mushrooms
¼-½ cup vegetable stock
Pinch each: salt, sugar
3 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp fish sauce
Large pinch chilli flakes
2 large shallots, diced
¼ cup each: mint leaves, coriander leaves
Sliced spring onion to garnish
- Slice the mushrooms, if large.
- Heat the stock in a small frying pan. Add the salt and sugar. Add the mushrooms and simmer, until cooked.
- Remove from the heat and season with the lime juice, fish sauce and chilli. Toss with the shallots and herbs and top with spring onion. Serves 4.