An Asian hybrid that illustrates the reticent charms of Chinese cabbage, which acts as lightener, binder, texturizer, and mild sweetener—yet is nearly invisible. Barely cook it to retain a slight crunch, or, if you prefer softer shreds, cook longer with more broth. Enjoy the contrasts of chewy shiitake, crepey cabbage, slippery noodles, and tender tofu for a main course or part of a vegetable meal. Improvise, adding soaked dried seaweed, fresh mushrooms, bean sprouts, diced red pepper, or lotus root. If piquant is your preference, substitute sesame-chilli oil for the plain toasted type. The sizes of packages of bean threads vary slightly; choose one close to ¼ pound.