Alibi V.16 No.16 • April 19-25, 2007 

Bite

De-High Shrooms

When fresh isn’t available, soak these babies

Our first kitchen mentor, a bear of a man named Joe Parks who instructed us in the college mess hall, used to describe any subpar ingredient from the freezer saying, “Not bad … for a frozen product.” It’s a mantra we’ll always remember. Consequently, we've never championed a frozen, dried or freeze-dried product. It’s fresh or nothing.

So consider this a milestone of sorts when we say that we give some fat-ass props to a particular Trader Joe’s product that keeps popping up in our recent recipes: dried wild mushrooms ($1.99). This package is a rough mix of forest shrooms—porcinis, oyster, shiitakes and weird seaweed-like floppy ones. Meaning this mix is probably not appropriate to sub for real mushies (except in a quick fix), but it works wonders in other ways. Reviving these guys from their dried-out state is simple:

1) Bring two cups of water to boil. Empty packet into a large bowl, add a pinch of sea salt and top mushrooms with hot water.

2) Place a lid, or plate, on top of the bowl and let sit for 15 minutes.

3) Strain over another bowl to separate the shrooms from water. Tear mushrooms into big chunks or dice super-fine, depending on use.

What you have now is both revived wild mushrooms that, while nowhere near as good as fresh, are pretty good for meals where mushrooms are secondary, and you also have a killer mushroom broth to use for rice, noodles, soups, vegetables or even other fresh mushrooms! And unless you live in Vancouver, B.C., you’re not going to find a cheaper patch of wild shrooms short of picking them yourself. Not bad for a dehydrated product.