Guide to Rehydrating Chinese Dried Mushrooms, Complete With Recipes

Soaking mushrooms gives them a plumper texture and removes dirt

Wooden bowl of different mushrooms
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Chinese dried mushrooms (also called black mushrooms or dried shiitake mushrooms) have an intense meaty flavor that enhances the flavor of soups, stir-fries, and braised dishes. However, the dried mushrooms must first be rehydrated. This is true even if you’re planning to use the dried mushrooms in a soup or broth. Besides giving them a plumper texture, soaking the dried mushrooms helps remove any particles of dirt.

Simple Steps for Rehydrating Chinese Dried Mushrooms

  1. Gently rinse the dried shiitake mushroom with cold water, which helps get rid of any dirt.
  2. Place the dried mushrooms in a bowl with warm water to cover. (Note: You will probably need to place a small plate, lid from a pot, or other item or other item on top of the bowl to keep the mushrooms from floating).
  3. Soak the Chinese dried mushrooms in warm water for about 20-30 minutes or until softened. The exact soaking time will depend on the thickness of the caps. The warm water temperature should be the same temperature as your bath water.

If you’re in a hurry, soak the dried mushrooms in hot water for 15-30 minutes, but it's not recommended you soak any dried mushrooms in hot water to rehydrate. This is because hot water will damage the flavor of the dried shiitake mushrooms. After you have softened in hot water you will find the dried shiitake mushrooms aren’t as aromatic as they should be.

Cold water is definitely the best way to rehydrate dried shiitake mushrooms as it keeps all the flavors and aromas, but only use warm water if you’re in a rush and hot water if you’re desperate.

Some mushrooms may take 1-2 hours to rehydrate, but normally it should take 20-40 minutes to rehydrate dried shiitake mushrooms.

It really depends on the cap of the dried shiitake mushroom you are using. 

What to Do With the Leftover Soaking Liquid

You may want to keep the soaking liquid so you can add it to soups, rice or dishes you're cooking with Chinese dried mushrooms. The liquid from soaking the dried mushrooms can be used to enhance the flavor of soup or braising liquid, or added to stir-frying vegetables to prevent them from drying out. It also makes a great vegetarian/ vegan-friendly substitute for chicken stock in recipes.

Tip: Don’t throw out the cut mushroom stems - they are a great way to add extra flavor to a soup. Just seal in a plastic bag and freeze until needed.

Delicious Recipes That Require Chinese Dried Mushrooms

  • Oyster Sauce Chicken With Spinach Noodles: This recipe tells you how to make delicious oyster sauce chicken and how to make super healthy homemade Chinese spinach noodles.
  • Delicious Steamed Egg With  Seafood Recipe: Here's a delicious steamed egg with seafood recipe.  This is a favorite childhood dish and is commonly served in Taiwanese households
  • Mu Shu Pork: The famous northern Chinese dish, with a selection of Chinese vegetables that can include Chinese mushrooms, cloud ears, and lily buds representing a forest scene.
  • Stir-fry Fish Cubes: Chinese mushrooms add an earthy flavor to this recipe.
  • Buddha’s Delight: A simplified version of the popular vegetarian dish, traditionally served on the first day of Chinese New Year.
  • Brasied Tofu: In this recipe medium or soft tofu and vegetables are braised in a simple, flavorful mixture of soy sauce, stock, and sugar, with a splash of Asian sesame oil added at the end.