Ingredient Spotlight: Porcini Powder

Like porcini mushrooms? You've got to get some porcini powder for your spice cupboard. This stuff is like umami-packed magic fairy dust for your food. Once you start sprinkling, it's hard to stop.

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I've been keeping my eye out for porcini powder ever since I first read about it in David Tanis's recipe for Wild Mushroom Ragout in Heart of the Artichoke. I finally found it at Far West Fungi, the San Francisco mushroom vendor where Tanis likely finds his porcini powder, too!

It's worth whatever mountains you have to climb or specialty stores you have to comb to find this stuff. Porcini mushrooms are already next to truffles in their gourmet status, and this powder helps bring that same deep, savory, chocolatey flavor to...well, everything.

So far, I've added it to soup bases, risottos, cream-based pasta sauces, and casseroles. I've mixed a little scoop with starchy pasta water to make a quick sauce, and rubbed it into steaks before grilling. I've even sprinkled it over popcorn for a savory midnight snack. Any dish that could use an extra boost of deep umami flavor is a potential candidate for porcini powder.

This powder isn't cheap, I'll admit. This 4-ounce bag was a whopping $20, making it one of the most expensive seasonings in my cupboard. But a little really does go a long way, and this pouch has lasted me several months. The price is also not unreasonable considering how incredibly expensive actual porcini mushrooms can be.

If Far West Fungi is out of your way, look for porcini powder at gourmet and specialty grocery stores. You can also find it online:

Porcini Powder from Far West Fungi, $5 for one ounce
Porcini Mushroom Powder from Purcell Mountain Farms, $7.60 for four ounces
Porcini Powder from JR Mushroom and Specialties, $9.00 for four ounces

Have you cooked with this seasoning before? What are your favorite uses?

Related: 10 Pantry Staples Not to Be Caught Without

(Images: Emma Christensen)

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