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Fun Things to Do With…

...Dried Shiitake Mushrooms

Photo by Madison Inouye

In this series, we’re highlighting different ingredients and interesting ways to use them in your kitchen. At Earth + City we’re all about innovation, new recipes and new ways to highlight produce. This week we’re taking a closer look at dried shiitake mushrooms.

You may not be familiar with them, but they’re a serious hack in vegan and vegetarian cooking. Sure, they look a little like shrunken heads, but these ‘shrooms pack some serious flavour! They are umami bombs and can take your recipes to the next level. Dried shiitake mushrooms can be found at Asian grocery stores, at your local grocery store or even better you can dry Ontario-grown shiitakes from our market friends at Fresh and Tasty Mushrooms. Here are some ideas for how you can use them at home.

Create a dynamite veggie stock

As a vegan it can sometimes be hard to pack flavour into your meals without relying on artificial sauces and processed food. This is where dried shiitake mushrooms come in: they are your secret weapon!

Adding a few dried shiitakes to a homemade veggie stock can take it to the next level, but be careful: these bad boys are strong, so you don’t want to use more than a handful.

When you cook up your next batch of quinoa use your mushroom stock instead of water and you won’t be disappointed.

Make your own umami salt

“But isn’t salt already umami?” I hear you ask. Well no, technically umami is the fifth taste. Since we add salt to most things, you can make all your food taste better by making your salt more umami. One easy way to do that is by whizzing dried shiitakes into a powder using a coffee grinder and adding that to your salt.

Now you’ve warmed to the concept of using dried shiitake mushrooms in your cooking, why not go all out and try this delicious congee recipe. As we wait for the first days of spring to take hold, a steaming bowl of congee is a great meal for those cold, dark nights (or mornings).  On that note - don’t forget our clocks spring forward this Sunday morning at 2 am!

Photo by Shao Z

Brown rice and shiitake mushroom congee

Serves 4

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 spring onions, finely sliced (to serve)

Knob of fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced

3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced


1.5 cups short-grain brown rice

½ cup dried shiitake mushrooms, roughly chopped

5 radishes, thinly sliced

2 tbsp rice-wine vinegar

½ tsp caster sugar

Toasted sesame seeds (to serve)


Blitz the rice in a coffee grinder or pulse in a food processor, until the grains are broken up (you may need to do this in two batches). Do the same with the mushrooms and combine evenly with the rice and a teaspoon of salt.

Place the oil, ginger and garlic and large, high-sided pan on a medium-low heat. Fry for 5-10 minutes, until soft and aromatic.

Add the rice mix into the pan and turn the heat to medium-high. Add 4 ½ cups of water and bring to a simmer. Once the mixture is simmering, lower the heat to medium and leave to cook for 30 minutes, stirring often, until the rice is done and the congee has the consistency of a soupy oatmeal.

While the rice and mushrooms mix is cooking, put the radishes in a bowl with the vinegar, sugar and a quarter-teaspoon of salt, and leave to pickle lightly.

Divide the congee between bowls and garnish with the pickled radishes, sliced spring onions, toasted sesame seeds, herbs, fried shallots or any other toppings of your choice! I recommend toasted sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and hot sauce.

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