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Mushrooms: Porcini versus Shiitake

By Cook's Illustrated Published July 2012

Dried shiitake mushrooms have 15 times more flavor-building nucleotides than dried porcini. Should you switch to dried shiitakes from now on when you want to boost meaty flavor?

To find out how well dried shiitake mushrooms stand in for porcini, we used each type of mushroom in a vegetable soup that calls for 1/8 ounce of dried mushrooms and a mushroom sauce that uses 1/2 ounce of dried mushrooms. The results? The soup made with shiitakes was deemed meatier, with less pronounced mushroomy flavor, than its porcini counterpart—a plus for a majority of our tasters. The shiitake sauce, on the other hand, lost out to the porcini version for its relatively mild mushroom flavor.

In the future, we’ll consider substituting shiitakes for porcini mushrooms in dishes in which we value meaty, umami-boosting qualities, and we’ll save pricier dried porcini (they often cost twice as much as shiitakes) for times when we really want to feature their distinctive mushroom taste.

FLAVOR-BOOSTING FUNGI:

The dried shiitake mushroom (left) offers meatier flavor than porcini—at half the price.