When it comes to the world of mushrooms, today’s discussion is all about Porcini versus Shiitake shrooms. Let’s continue…
What are Porcini Mushrooms?
Porcini mushrooms are brown-capped mushrooms with thick, white stalks. The caps can range in size from an inch to nearly a foot, but most collected specimens are no more than a few inches. The caps have a convex shape when young, giving them the ideal appearance for mushrooms, and require no prep other than a quick clean. Because of their status in fine cuisine, their short season, and how difficult they are to cultivate, porcini mushrooms can be pricey.
What are Shitake Mushrooms?
The shitake is an edible mushroom native to East Asia. Because of its health benefits, it has been considered a medicinal mushroom in traditional herbal medicine, mentioned in books written thousands of years ago. Shiitakes have a meaty texture and woodsy flavour, making them the perfect addition to soups, salads, meat dishes and stir-fries.
The Battle of the Shrooms
It’s been said that dried shitake mushrooms have 15 times more flavour-building nucleotides than dried porcini mushrooms. Which then begs the question – should you switch to dried shiitakes from now on when you want to boost meaty flavour? Let’s look at what happens to a simple vegetable soup to help make our decision.
The Vegetable Soup Experiment
To find out how well dried shiitake mushrooms stand in for porcini, this experiment used each type of mushroom in a vegetable soup that called for 1/8 ounce of dried mushrooms and a mushroom sauce that used 1/2 ounce of dried mushrooms. The results? The soup made with shiitakes was deemed meatier, with less pronounced mushroomy flavour, than its porcini counterpart—a plus for a refined tasters. The shiitake sauce, on the other hand, lost out to the porcini version for its relatively mild mushroom flavour.
So where do you go from here? In the future, consider substituting shiitakes for porcini mushrooms in dishes in which you value meaty, “umami-boosting” qualities, and perhaps save the sometimes pricier dried porcini for those times when you really want to feature their distinctive mushroom taste!
THE FLAVOUR-BOOSTING FUNGI WINNER:
You be the judge… Just consider this key point: The dried shiitake mushroom offers meatier flavour than porcini.
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