I was recently given a bag of dried mushrooms and am unsure how to work with them. What's the best way to use them?
I guess you must be referring to dried Shiitake Mushrooms.
I agree with all the answers above, but I must make some additional steps to it. I also believe we are talking the whole mushroom. If it is sliced mushrooms, you will need to soak them for less time.
Yes, it's best to use cold water and it will take at least couple of hours.
- I would soak them in cold water for about 15 mins
Pour all the water out. Put in fresh water and keep soaking it. I will do this step couple of times. Remember you may save the water to use as flavouring, but you have to clean the mushroom and make sure the bitterness is gone. Also, I must say the imported Chinese mushroom must be handled carefully as there have been reports that they may contain dangerous chemicals.
After a couple of hours, make sure the mushrooms are soft, take them out of water, and drive them thoroughly. You may keep the water if you wish. The mushrooms are good for foods that are steamed or stir-fry.
If you are in rush, then you may use hot or warm water. You still have to go through the cleaning process, but the time will be less.
If you use mushrooms for making soup, you may not need to soak it. I would soak them for quick 10 mins and give them a clean. Throw them straight into water and boil them to make soup. The flavour of the mushrooms will come out nicely.