HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >

Discussion

Dried Chinese floral mushrooms

  • 20
  • Share

Recently I cooked a stuffed mushroom recipe (from Yan-Kit So's Classic Chinese Cookbook, page 154) that called for dried Chinese mushrooms, reconstituted. I purchased some dried Chinese thick floral mushrooms and soaked them in hot water for 20 minutes, then proceeded with the recipe.

The mushrooms had good flavor, but were so chewy that the resulting dish was quite a disappointment.

I understand that for some cultures and in some uses, even when the fresh ingredient is available, sometimes the dried/preserved/canned ingredient is preferred because it has its own unique flavor.

My questions:

- I am wondering if any of you ever use dried Chinese mushrooms with good results, and if so, what you used them for.

- For those of you of Chinese descent, I am wondering if you would ever purchase dried mushrooms if fresh are available. Meaning, when you purchase dried mushrooms, is that because they're more authentic and have the right flavor for the dish, or just because you can't find the fresh equivalent?

Thanks in advance!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. I'm guessing you were not using mushrooms, but rather dried ear fungus.

    Did they look like anything in the pics below?

     
     
    1. Fresh shiitakes are delicious, but the dried variety gives a unique flavor in soups and stews/braises. It is a similar analogy for fresh scallops versus the dried kind (also known as conpoy). Different applications and different results (and flavor profiles).

      3 Replies
      1. re: K K

        I don't believe the OP was using Shitakes. Never seen Shitakes described as "floral"

        1. re: ipsedixit

          I equated floral with flower... there are Chinese mushrooms called huagu, hence my thinking. But your assumption could be correct too.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            'Never seen Shitakes described as "floral"'

            I have. Some people call it floral, some people call it flower. 花菇

        2. It sounds like KK is right about "floral mushrooms" referring to huagu; these are commonly available in Chinese markets and herb stores, but may be more difficult to find than the more commonly available types of shiitake.
          http://www.google.com/search?q=%E8%8A...

          I would try soaking them all day or overnight in cool water instead of hot water for a shorter time. Even if you use hot water, you should soak for an hour or more. The quality and size of dried Chinese mushrooms can vary greatly too. They keep for a while, so if you have good ones available near you, invest in some good quality ones. Working with these does take some practice if you want to eat them whole (using them in fillings or stir-fries where they're diced or sliced is usually a little more forgiving). Slicing or pulling off the stems (I'm assuming you're already doing this if you're stuffing them) may also help if you're finding them a bit too chewy.

          Most of the time, the shiitakes available here are of a different variety. But to answer your question, yes, Chinese people I know (and restaurants) often use dried mushrooms and fungus even when fresh ones of the same type are available at the market. The flavor is more concentrated with the dried ones, and the texture can be different, plus, the mushrooms usually come in packages of a fixed size, and for a stuffing or filling, you might only need 3 or 4. For certain applications, someone might be more likely to use one more often than the other.

          This applies a bit more to wood ear fungus than to the kind we're talking about here, but just keep in mind, too, that Chinese people tend to like chewy textures. It should have a chewy texture, but not so chewy that it's impossible to eat.

          4 Replies
          1. re: will47

            I did indeed mean the type of mushrooms that will47 mentioned: http://www.google.com/search?q=%E8%8A.... Are they considered to be a type of shiitake? I heard someone Chinese refer to them as floral mushrooms and assumed they were different from shiitake.

            1. re: ethnicchower

              Yes, they are a subclass of shiitake, like a golden retriever is a type of dog.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Got it! Very useful info!
                Do you know if there's some subname (English or Chinese) that will distinguish them from the more typical thinner and darker shiitake?

                1. re: ethnicchower

                  Yeah, like you said, you can call them "花菇" in Chinese. I have seen them being called as White Shiitake or White Flower Shiitake in English:

                  http://www.google.com/search?q=white%...

          2. Dried and fresh mushrooms generally have totally different flavours. I definitely buy different ones depending on the recipe, even though fresh are available, and that's standard here (Taiwan).

            Personally, I prefer the smaller shitakes for reconstituting (2-4 centimetres in diametre), rather than the really big ones, for texture reasons. Plus, they're way cheaper than the really big ones, even if they aren't as pretty.

            One fantastic but simple dish is to take the smaller dried shitakes, soak them, squeeze them out, and then saute them in butter until they start to brown. I also use them a lot in rice dishes, and fillings for things like dumplings or zhongzi.

            For the wood's ear fungus, as shown in the picture above, the fresh ones looks so different that I didn't realize that they were the same food at first.

            1. To answer your question

              Yes, I have used mushrooms with good results. I have used them for various thing from making soup, to stir fry, to making dim sum.

              I like fresh mushrooms as well. I think the dried mushroom offers a different favor than the fresh mushrooms, but not so different that I cannot substitute one for another. In other words, I am not going to stop making what I want to make just because I cannot find the fresh ones or the dried ones.

              1. With these mushrooms in mind: http://www.google.com/search?q=%E8%8A..., I am wondering if anyone has had success in reconstituting them and eating them whole. (I can imagine that using them for dishes that require chopping would be a lot more forgiving.

                )

                I will for sure try will47's advice of soaking them overnight. I did pull off the stems when I stuffed them (the stems were quite tough!)

                5 Replies
                1. re: ethnicchower

                  That's what I said. I said you must be looking at 花菇. :)

                  I have success reconstituting them, but you are correct: they won't have the same texture as fresh mushrooms. They will feel more chewy.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    Cool, thanks! When you reconstitute them, do you leave them overnight or for several hours soaking in the water?

                    I like a bit of chewyness, but with only 20 minutes of soaking like I did, they were pretty much inedible :) (oh, the misadventures of Chinese cooking...)

                    1. re: ethnicchower

                      :) If you know that you will cook these dried mushroom ahead of time, then you can definitely soak them overight. In my case, I often use these mushrooms for making soap, so it didn't matter if they were soaked through-and-through because because they will get cooked through eventually.

                      In cases which I need to soak them through fast, and not for making soap, then I speed up the process by soaking them in semi-hot water for a hour (not boiling hot). You may need to change the water in the middle after it starts to cool down.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        I noticed that you say you use semi-hot water, *not boiling*, to speed up the soaking of the mushrooms. I have seen this advice in other sources. I am wondering why we shouldn't use boiling water - wouldn't that speed up the soaking even more? (or maybe it would overcook them?)

                        1. re: ethnicchower

                          "I am wondering why we shouldn't use boiling water "

                          Ethnic,

                          You can. I think it is a balance. The hotter the water you use the faster you can soften the dried mushroom. On the other hand, the hotter the water you use, the more favor will leak out from the mushrooms. I am sure you have make stock from pork or chicken. The longer you cook the meat, the more favorful the liquid, but the less favorful the meat. A similar situation here, I think.

                          So feel free to use boiling water, but don't leave the dried mushroom in there for too long.

                2. Fantastic replies - thank you everyone for chipping in!

                  1. I just wanted to let everyone know that I did the "mushroom test"! I bought another package of dried white flower shiitake (after I threw away the package I bought earlier, thinking they just didn't work for me), and soaked two mushrooms overnight: one in cold water and one in hot tap water.

                    This morning my husband woke me up saying that our kitchen had been invaded by two giant mushrooms :) They are quite a bit bigger compared to when they were dry! I tasted a bit from both and they taste fantastic! Their texture is so soft (especially compared to my previous failed attempt) and the flavor is stronger and better than fresh mushrooms. So good!

                    Without this forum thread, I would have given up on dried shiitake. So thanks everyone!