This is a colourful and wholesome vegetable dish that is easily assembled for a family dinner. It is a classic combination of the tastes and textures so typical of Chinese cookery. The cloud ears have little flavour of their own but, like mushrooms in general, they readily absorb other flavours and retain their chewy texture. And, like truffles in French cuisine, cloud ears enhance an entire recipe, bringing out the best in the other foods.
Soak the cloud ears in warm water for 20 minutes until soft. Set them aside.
If you are using fresh waterchestnuts, peel them. If you are using tinned waterchestnuts, drain them well and rinse in cold water. Thinly slice the waterchestnuts. String the celery and slice diagonally.
Heat a wok or large frying-pan over a medium heat and add the oil. When hot, add the garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Then add the cloud ears and celery and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Stir in the mangetout and fresh waterchestnuts and stir-fry for another minute. Add all the sauce ingredients, except the blended cornflour. Bring the sauce to the boil and stir in the cornflour mixture. If you are using tinned waterchestnuts, add at this stage and warm through. Turn the mixture onto a serving platter and serve at once.
© 1995 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.