1. Blend the water, tomato paste, soy sauce, dried pepper, spices, and salt until smooth and homogenous.
2. Place the blended liquid and dried mushrooms into a large skillet set over medium-high heat.
3. Pour the blended sauce and bring to a simmer.
4. Cover, and cook until all the liquid has been absorbed or evaporated, 10-15min.
5. Add 2 tbsp of olive oil to the pan and let the mushrooms sit undisturbed to brown, 3-5min.
6. When the mushrooms have taken on crispy parts, stir the pan and repeat the process two more times with the remaining olive oil. The mushrooms should be quite dark with the occasional charred spot.
7. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and coarsely chop.
We tested this with maitake, shiitake, wood ear, lobster, oyster, beech, enoki, yellowfoot chanterelles, chicken of the woods, and morels. Every time, we got a versatile and flavorful mushroom meat that is has all the chew and char needed for your favorite recipes. Try different spices and mushrooms, but keep the technique the same: simmer the dried mushrooms in a flavorful sauce until the liquid is absorbed, then add fat to the pan to brown the mushrooms all over.