Yesterday I decided to help myself to some of my mums dried mushrooms. Mmmmm. I love mushrooms. (So much I made them into a heart! Actually that was a bit of an accident, hehe.)
Traditionally these are cooked with meat and they tend to soften and become infused with the runoff fat from the animal. It's really easy to cook them without meat of course: It's just necessary to keep in mind the implications.
Dried mushrooms first need to be soaked--the wood ear mushroom (the one that's thin and curly, a personal fave) only needs to be soaked 15 minutes or so. I then marinade it for as long as possible (less marinade just means add more soy sauce at the end) in a mixture of rice wine vinegar, soy sauce and sweetener. Finally, I steam it for 5-10 minutes until heated through. This goes fabulously with sticky rice for a quick, simple treat.
The shiitake mushrooms need to be soaked overnight, as they're much tougher. They're a great addition to miso soup, as a sort of vegetarian dashi. They an also be steamed until tender or added to almost any clear soup. They add a noticable, but (I find) pleasant flavor to any dish.