To Reconstitute a Dried Ingredient

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Dried products, such as Chinese black mushrooms, cloud ears, and golden needles, have to be reconstituted in order to return them to their former pliable state. To do this, soak them for 20 minutes or longer in enough hot water for them to expand fully. Then remove them from the soaking liquid, squeeze out excess water, but leave them damp. The soaking liquid for the black mushrooms can be reserved for the stockpot or for sauce, but the liquid for cloud ears and golden needles should be discarded.

There is often fine sand or other impurities attached to cloud ears and it is therefore advisable to rub them gently once they have expanded in the soaking liquid, plucking off at the same time the hard knobs found on them. As for golden needles, simply chop off the small hard ends after removing them from the liquid.

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