Dried Porcini mushrooms are a good source of copper, protein, potassium, selenium, zinc, and B vitamins. They’re like an everything-you-could-ever-need-in-one meal. They can be consumed whole or ground into powders (more on this later).
The absence of an ingredient shouldn’t altogether annul or halt the preparation of a meal. A good cook’s glory isn’t mainly in the skill set he possesses; but rather in his ability to think on his feet and impressively improvise when things are on the verge of going South.
What is the Best substitute for dried porcini mushrooms? In our experience, nothing comes close to dried porcinis like Shiitake mushrooms. Shiitakes are so similar to porcinis; even the most professional chefs mix them up sometimes.
An Overview of Dried Porcini Mushrooms
Aka Sep mushrooms or King Boletus, porcini mushrooms are unarguably one of the best and wanted mushrooms around. They originally hail from Italy but have gained acceptance and popularity all over the world over the years.
Sun-drying porcini mushrooms produce dried porcini mushrooms (Gee… who would have thought?). The drying process dehydrated them, thereby concentrating, enhancing, and sharpening their flavors. It’s why they stand out in any meal, from steak to pork, to pasta, to soups, etc.
Like we hinted earlier, dried porcini mushrooms can be used in cooking in two major ways.
- As it is (whole): Dried porcinis can spice your meals with extravagant meaty goodness. All you need to do is rehydrate (soak) for 1-2 hours in hot water, then toss into your sauce/soup. This step is crucial in softening the already-dried and firm mushroom.
Dried porcini mushrooms are so richly flavored; the rehydration waters can be used as cooking liquid. Asides from their meaty texture, dried porcini have highly earthy fragrances.
- Ground: Some people might not be so comfortable with dried porcini’s meaty texture (some have even said it irritates them). Yet, these folks like its flavor. The powdery ground option is available for people who like to taste porcini but hate to see and feel it in their mouths.
It can equally be used in soups and sauce but is more commonly used in combination with other ingredients as a dry rub for meat, pork, and chicken preparation. This form is, therefore, more versatile in use than the whole version.
Why Replace Dried Porcini Mushrooms?
- Boredom: Many times, our taste buds get bored of a particular taste if we’ve had it over and over again. As humans, we’re wired for adventure; we’re wired to try new things. A reason as mundane as this might be why you’d want to try out a substitute spice. And it’s okay.
- Non-availability: Sometimes, due to one reason or the other, dried mushroom porcini might be unavailable. These substitutes provide a way of escape.
- Personal preference: This will always be a valid reason. It is highly possible you don’t like dried porcini mushrooms, but you somehow find shiitakes manageable.
Best Recommended Substitute for Dried Porcini Mushrooms: Dried Shiitake Mushrooms
- The significant difference between shiitake and porcini is that the former has a thicker flavor but moderately sweet.
- While the dried porcini have a robust earthy aroma, the shiitake is relatively mild. This makes it the perfect supplement for any meal.
Despite these differences, dried shiitake is an impeccable porcini mushroom substitute. They have the same nutrients, meaty texture, and appearance in meals (whether in powdery or whole options).
Additional Substitutes for Dried Porcini Mushrooms
These are a rather luxurious alternative, but they substitute just fine too. They are so costly, you’ll seldom find them in regular households… but then again, yours might be anything but regular.
They have a high-fat content, an earthy fragrance, and a quite bland flavor. In addition to the fact that they have very similar nutrients as dried porcini mushrooms, truffles make a perfect alternative.
No, thyme doesn’t give a meaty texture. It is not even a mushroom. It’s an evergreen shrub. Nonetheless, it is considered a top contender for a dried porcini mushroom substitute.
- Rich nutritional value: Thyme contains over 80% of the same nutrients found in dried porcini.
- Thyme has a natural, herbal, and earthy aroma like porcini.
Thyme is a perfect substitute only when you hope to use the powdery porcini mushroom variant. Don’t you go rehydrating dried thyme and expecting a meaty texture.
The zucchini is a Mesoamerican vegetable that can measure up to 40 inches long. The major semblance it bears with dried porcini mushrooms is its fantastic taste: both have a mild flavor, intense earthy aromas, and are particularly fat abundant.
If you truly want some exciting adventure, cook zucchini with some olive oil or cannabis. This greatly enhances its flavor and the overall richness of the meal.
As far as nutrients go, the zucchini belongs to the low-energy food groups. It is not nearly as nutrient-rich as the dried porcini mushroom, neither is it as high in calories.
You can either eat fresh zucchini raw or mix it with salads.
And just if you were wondering, you can make your own dried zucchini too. Spreading it out in the sun for about a week should do the trick. This way, you can use zucchini in somewhat flexible ways as you would dried porcini mushrooms.
… And the spectrum keeps getting weirder.
But yes, you can use tomato paste when dried porcini isn’t available. How are they even similar?
Tomato paste is an intensely concentrated tomato sauce with equal nutrients as its original sauce (fresh tomatoes). Unlike zucchini, it has an abundant energy sauce and may not be suitable for people trying to lose weight.
Tomato paste can be used as a dry rub for steaks, and it’s perfect for meatballs, pasta, and fish.
If you’re looking for any clear-cut relationship between dried porcini and tomato paste, we’re sorry to disappoint you. The only similarity they bear is the umami taste of their presence in foods.