Tag Archives: Mushroom

My Favorite Chinese Stir Fry: Sliced Pork & Wood Ear Mushrooms

This was what I learned to cook during my second Chinese Cooking Class.  It incorporates ginger, garlic, and peppers, three elements that my teacher told me were necessary ingredients for almost all Chinese home cooking.  This dish is a basic stir fry that combines sliced pork in a simple marinade with fragrant wild pepper oil, savory wood ear mushrooms, dried lilies, and the cool crunch of fresh cucumber.  Served with rice or a cold salad, this makes an excellent main course.  Like many Chinese dishes  I have learned to make, this one takes a good deal of preparation, but with careful scheduling and about 30 minutes of prep the night before, you can pull off the main bulk of cooking in less than an hour.

Garlic, Ginger, and X'ian Peppers

Flower Pepper Oil

  • 2 cups Vegetable Oil
  • 2 tablespoons Flower Peppers

Stir Fry

  • 8 oz. to 1 lb. Lean Pork
  • 1 tablespoon Dark Soy Sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon Malt Vinegar
  • 1 Egg White
  • 1 cup Dried Wood Ear Mushrooms
  • 1 cup Dried Day Lily Buds
  • 1 Cucumber
  • 1 cup Flower Pepper Oil
  • 2-3 Eggs
  • 4 cloves Garlic
  • Fresh Ginger to taste
  • 2 – 5 Dried Hot Peppers, seeded and chopped into thirds (optional)

Goji Sesame Rice

  • 2 cups Steamed/Boiled Rice
  • 1 teaspoon Goji Berries
  • 1 teaspoon Raisins
  • 1 teaspoon Black Sesame Seeds

Phase One: Flower Pepper Oil and Rehydrating the Dried Ingredients

Flower Pepper Oil is a key ingredient in many Chinese dishes.  By infusing the spicy aroma and flavor of Flower Peppers into a simple base oil, such as Canola, Peanut, or Soybean, you can kick your stir fry dishes up a notch.  Pour at least 2 cups of oil into a wok, or deep skillet, followed by 2 tablespoons of dried Sichuan Flower Peppers.  Warm the oil over medium heat for 15 – 20 minutes, or until the pepper browns completely.  This process will fill your kitchen with the sweetly spicy aroma of Flower Peppers. Yum yum yum.  Remove the pan from heat and allow it to cool completely.  Once it is ready, strain the oil through a cheese cloth or fine mesh strainer to remove the Flower Peppers.  Keep the oil in a sealed bottle or container until it is used.

Infusing the Flower Pepper Oil

Wood Ear Mushrooms are also known as Brown Wood Fungus, Judas Ear Fungus, and Jelly Ear Fungus.  In your Asian grocery they may be called  木耳 mù ěr or 黑木耳 hēi mù ěr in Chinese or キクラゲ kikurage in Japanese. It is one of about a zillion edible mushrooms so be cafreful when you try to pick it out.  It looks like this.

Wood Ear Fungus and Dried Lilies

The yellow things on the right are Chinese Day Lily Buds.  They are called 金针菜 jīn​zhēn​cài​ in Chinese and are available at most Asian groceries.  If you have trouble finding them, take a simple approach and just ask for “dried lilies”.   Both the Wood Ear Mushrooms and the Lilies will need to be re-hydrated before they can be used.  This will take at least 30 minutes, so it’s not a bad idea to get this over with the night before if you know you’ll be short on time the next day.  Pop about 1 cup of each into bowls of cold, salted water and let them sit for 30 – 90 minutes.  Any less and they’ll remain dried out.  Any longer and they can begin to wilt.  When they have had enough to drink, drain them and set them aside, covered and refrigerated if you’re cooking them the next day.

Wood Ear Mushrooms and Day Lily Buds Re-hydrating in Salt Water

Phase Two: Prep Work

The first thing you’ll need to do is to slice and marinade the pork.  Start with a lean pork medallion and a very sharp knife.  Slice the pork as thinly as you can, and then chop the slices into bite sized pieces.  You can use between 8 ounces and 1 lb. for this recipe depending on the size of your crowd and your fondness for meat.  When the pork has been all cut up, toss it into a bowl followed by 1 tablespoon of Dark Soy Sauce, 1 tablespoon of Malt Vinegar, and 1 tablespoon Flower Pepper Oil.  This special soy sauce can be found at the Asian Grocery, but if you’d rather not add another odd bottle to your collection of household sauces, go ahead and use regular soy sauce.  It won’t affect the flavor all that much.  Add a little salt, an egg white, and a teaspoon of cornstarch.  Mix the marinade and pork well to make sure it is totally coated, then set it aside.

Large Slices of Ginger

Now comes the chopping.  In this dish, garlic and ginger play a major role.  You can go by your own taste on how much to add.  For me, I don’t hold back. I chop up about 4 – 6 cloves of garlic, and about 1/2 thumbs worth of fresh ginger when I cook this dish.  Peel the garlic and chop it into coarse, vertical pieces.  Shave the ginger, then slice it into large chunks.  These large cut chunks will add flavor, but are not meant to be bitten into during every bite of the meal.  As an added bonus, for those who don’t enjoy chomping into straight garlic or ginger, these large slices are easy to avoid.

Chunks of Garlic

Next, you’ll need to prep your re-hydrated ingredients.  Make sure your Mushrooms are totally drained, then carefully pull each one apart with your fingers, creating bite sized pieces from the giant individual mushrooms.  To prep the Lilies, pick them from the pile one at a time, and feel each end of the stalk.  If you feel a very hard nub at either end, chop it off and discard it.  You can leave the remainder of the lily whole, chop it in half, or even tie it in a knot if you want to get fancy.

Wood Mushrooms and Lily Buds Ready for Action

The cucumbers are next.  Get yourself a good sized English Cucumber, nice and long, but not too skinny.  Chop that sucker into 3 inch sections, discarding the round nubs on either side. Like so.

Chopping the Cucumber, Step One

Now, tip each section onto its flat side and cut it into 1/8 inch slices. Like this, and set them aside for later.

Chopping Cucumbers, Step Two

At some point it would be a great idea to throw on a pot of rice.  Long grain, basmati, whatever your pleasure, it’s best to have it steamed up, hot and ready when the dish is completed.  So get on it before you get cooking.  If you want to make your rice extra nutritious and delicious, not to mention extra interesting, toss in the following ingredients once the rice is finished cooking: 1 tablespoon Goji Berries, 1 tablespoon Raisins, and 1 Tablespoon Black Sesame Seeds.  Don’t these things look scrumptious together?  You know they do.

Goji Berries, Raisins, and Sesame Seeds, a Delightful Treat for Your Boring Rice.

What’s a Goji Berry you ask?  Sheesh.  If you must know, Goji Berries are small, red berries found throughout China, the Himalayas, and Tibet.  They grown on teeny little evergreen shrubs, and contain a boatload of goodies, such as antioxidants, beta-carotene, and the lesser known but very good for you cartenoid, zeaxanthin.  They are dried, and kind of look like pointy red raisins.  BTW, they are delicious in ramen.

Phase Three: Cooking!!

So you are finally ready to rock the wok.  Get the largest, most wok-like pan at your disposal and fill it with at least 1/2 cup of Flower Pepper Oil.  Heat that bad boy up over medium to high heat while you whisk together 2 – 3 eggs (depends on the size of your eggs, your appetite, and the amount of meat you’re using).  When the oil is hot, whisk the eggs like crazy to bubble them up, then drop them on in and watch the magic.  As a Westerner, the idea of deep frying scrambled eggs probably sounds completely crazy, but you’ll soon see the merit in this method.  Soon after your eggs hit the oil they will bloom into puffy delicious clouds.  Use a slotted spoon, or better yet, one of those round spatulas full of holes to nab the eggs out of the oil.  Once you’ve got them, drain them on a plate with a little paper towel and set them aside.

Now it’s time for the meat.  Are you ready?  Take a look at your wok first to assess the state of your oil.  It must be piping hot and plentiful.  Cooking the eggs may have reduced your supply, so go ahead and add some more if you think that your wok has less than 1/2 cup left.  Don’t be shy with the oil, you are cooking Chinese!  Trust me, no matter how much you add, they are adding more in China.  You really can’t overdo it.  Just make sure it is HOT.  Depending on your stove, you may need to set it on high.

Once you are ready, drop your marinated pork into the wok.  Right after adding the pork, take advantage of the slightly cooled oil by adding your chopped garlic, ginger, and hot peppers.  Continue tossing the pork until it has cooked.  Now, add 2 tablespoons of Chinese Cooking Wine followed by the Mushrooms and Lilies.  Cook these for a couple of minutes, stirring and tossing all the time.  Next, add the Scrambled Egg.  As you continue to stir, try to deliberately break up the egg.  Finally, add the chopped cucumber and continue to stir-fry just until the last ingredient has become hot.  Remove the mixture from the heat and serve it immediately along with your delicious, Goji Berry enhanced Rice.

Goji Sesame Rice

Sliced Pork & Wood Ear Mushrooms

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Asian

Candy Architecture

A rather wacky take on the traditional Gingerbread House, this
Toadstool Cottage that Michelle and I whipped up a few days before
Christmas was really something to see.  We kept asking ourselves as we
glued more and more little shrooms on the platter with royal icing, "Is
this going too far? Is this one mushroom too many?" But then we decided
that going too far was impossible when it came to Gingerbread Toadstool
Cottages. 

Toadstool House 1

Did I ever mention my deep and everlasting love for building things out of other things? Oh, and my love for candy?

Toadstool House 2

Michelle
baked the house and the roof from scratch out of actual gingerbread. 
The roof, a solid piece of gingerbread was baked inside a pyrex bowl to
achieve its perfectly round shape.  Since it was solid, it was pretty
heavy, so we reinforced the inside with some cardboard tubing.

Toadstool House 3
Scott
Bobleo foolishly scoffed at our Gingerbread House making skills by
challenging us to create a mailbox.  I laughed at him for doubting me,
then whipped up this little yellow beauty out of Lifesavers, Candy
Cane, and a Vanilla Tootsie Roll.  Suck on that, Doubty McDoubterson.

Toadstool Montage

We
made little mushrooms a number of ways.  The little colored ones are
made from gumdrops.  Just squish one gumdrop and then stick it (with
icing, of course) on top of an un-squished gumdrop.  There are also
teeny mushrooms made with regular gumdrops and bell shaped gumdrops. 
The larger mushrooms were made with bell shaped gumdrops, and topped
with either lumps of Gingerbread or Nilla Wafers.

Toadstool House 5
I
am really happy that Michelle acted on this idea.  I was bummed out
because I thought I wouldn't have time to make a Gingerbread
House(particulalry a Toadstool Cottage Gingerbread House), and I had
had my heart set on it since Thanksgiving.  When I was at Macys a few
days earlier, I saw the Martha Stewart Gingerbread House kit on
Clearance for six bucks and thought, "What the hey! I can make time for
a kit."  Kit in hand I popped over to Michelles, only to find her
baking Gingerbread for  this little wonder you see above.  I finished
my Martha Kit in no time flat, and then felt compelled to help Michelle
embellish the Toadstool Cottage.  We must have been at it for a couple
of hours, and I don't think we stopped giggling for more than a few
minutes alltogether.

Gum Drop Chapel 1

By
the way, here is the result of my Martha Kit.  Not so exciting as the
Toadstool Cottage, but very pretty anyway.  I added my own touch by
making it into a sort of candy chapel.  Don't ask why, I just felt the
urge!  Seeing my sis snap off the peppermint crucifix for a sacrificial
sucking session later on was good for a laugh.  My only complaint about
the kit was that the icing was more tasty than tacky.  I suppose you
can't ask much more from icing in a kit, but if I did it again I would
take the time to whip up a batch of real Royal Icing to go along with
the kit contents.  Getting that sucker to stay together with slow
drying icing was a real pain in the tookus.

4 Comments

Filed under Sweets & Desserts