BOK CHOY AND CHINESE MUSHROOM BRAISE
For Chinese New Year, Shanghainese families often prepare Braised Chinese Mushrooms with Bok Choy (香菇菜心)) as a traditional vegetable dish.
Vegans and vegetarians alike will like this recipe, thanks to its use of young bok choy (also known as Shanghai bok choy) and fragrant braised dried Chinese mushrooms. A simple replacement of vegetarian oyster sauce for conventional oyster sauce is all that is required here.
- 2½ oz. of small dried Chinese Mushrooms (70 grams)
- 10 oz. of Shanghai baby bok choy (280 grams, bottoms trimmed and split in half lengthwise)
- 2½ tbsp. of vegetable oil (divided)
- 1 tsp. of salt
- 2 cloves of garlic (finely minced)
- 1 tbsp. of Shaoxing wine
- ¼ tsp. of dark soy sauce
- 1½ tbsp. of regular soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. of oyster sauce (use vegetarian oyster sauce to keep the dish vegan)
- 1½ tsp. of sugar
- ⅛ tsp. of sesame oil
- ⅛ tsp. of white pepper
- 1 tbsp. of cornstarch (mixed with 1 tablespoon water)
- Put 2-3 cups of hot water over the dried Chinese mushrooms in a medium-sized bowl. Make sure the mushrooms are completely submerged by placing a plate on top of the bowl. A speedy reconstitution of the mushrooms is expected because they are so tiny. After 15 minutes, remove the mushroom stems and soak them in water for an additional 15 minutes.
- Make sure your sliced Shanghai bok choy is completely submerged in a big water basin. Dirt and sand can be released by agitating or stirring the veggies in the water. Make two more passes through the water, or as necessary, in order to guarantee that the bowl is clean at the bottom.
- If you want to save time, you can drain the mushrooms after they’ve been soaking. Set aside the mushrooms and their soaking water.
- Salt and vegetable oil should be added to a pot of boiling water. Stirring occasionally, cook the Shanghai bok choy in boiling water for 40 seconds. Just wilted and bright green, they should be. Pour 2 cups of cool water over the bok choy and toss to coat. You don’t want your bok choy to be very cold after being soaked in the cool water, so drain them immediately into a strainer. Drain.
- Then, on a large serving plate, arrange the bok choy in a circle with the mushrooms in the center.
- Prepare your wok by heating it to a medium high temperature. Use 1 1/2 tbsp of vegetable oil to grease the pan. Add the garlic and mushrooms, stir fry for 10 seconds, and then remove from the heat. Add the Shaoxing wine to the mix.
- Now carefully pour the mushroom soaking water into the wok, being careful not to spill any of the bowl’s sediment into the wok.
- Pour in 1/4 teaspoon dark soy sauce, 1 tablespoon ordinary soy sauce, 1 1/2 teaspoon oyster sauce, 1 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon white pepper as the liquid comes to a simmer. Stirring every few minutes will help the sauce thicken during the final five minutes of cooking.
- Using a spoon, slowly pour the cornstarch slurry into the pot and whisk it in while you do so. Taste the sauce after the mushrooms have cooked for another minute. Try adding more soy sauce or sugar to your liking if necessary. Add boiling water if the sauce is still too thick, or add more cornstarch slurry if it is too thin. Ideally, it should be able to coat the back of your spoon in sauce.
- Cooked Shanghai baby bok choy should be placed in the braised mushrooms and sauce center. Serve immediately for optimal results.