Red-Cooked Smoky Braised Mushrooms

All mushrooms are not equal in taste or texture. Chinese dried mushrooms have a rich, smoky flavour and they most readily absorb all the seasonings and flavours of the juices in which they have been braised.

Here is a luscious vegetarian dish which is easy to make and unlocks the special taste and deep aromas of these mushrooms. The sugar in this recipe adds a nice dimension and gives the mushrooms a wonderful sheen. This dish is easy to make and re-heats well, which makes it ideal for multicourse entertaining. It also pairs well with other vegetable dishes. Chinese dried mushrooms can be bought at Chinese grocers and some supermarkets but if you can’t get them, this recipe is almost as delicious made entirely with fresh ones.

Ingredients

  • 50 g (2 oz) Chinese dried mushrooms
  • Boiling water
  • 1 tablespoongroundnut oil
  • tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoonrock sugar or ordinary sugar

Method

Pick through the mushrooms and choose the largest and best-looking ones. Soak the Chinese dried mushrooms in just enough boiling water to cover them for 30 minutes and then drain them well through a fine sieve. Keep the mushroom soaking liquid. Let it settle and pour off most of the liquid, leaving any sand at the bottom. Save 300 ml (10 fl oz) of the liquid and set it aside. Squeeze out any excess liquid from the mushrooms through the sieve and add to the rest of the mushroom liquid. Remove the tough stems and leave the caps whole.

Heat a wok or large frying-pan over a high heat until it is hot. Add the oil and, when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the mush rooms and stir-fry for 15 seconds. Now add the Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry, soy sauce, sugar and reserved mushroom soaking liquid. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes until most of the liquid has been reduced. Serve at once or allow it to cool and re-heat when ready to serve.

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