I’ve been having a sort Asian-revival where it concerns food. Maybe it’s the winter. Maybe it was the impending trip I had home for Thanksgiving, but as of late I’ve been accessing the recesses of my mind and finding all sorts of goodies my parents used to prepare for dinner. One ingredient that I’ve rediscovered and fallen in love with all over again is the dried shitake mushroom. The dried shitake mushroom has a very different taste and texture than that of a fresh one. Thick and meaty and sweet, they are now a real treat. I grew up hating these–I used to pick them out of my bowl of rice at dinner–and somewhere along the way I thought to revist them and found that they were in fact, delicious. How taste changes, thank goodness. If it didn’t, I might still be sitting around eating bags of Funyuns and drinking Mountain Dew (oh wait, I still do that on occasion–if I start smelling of Axe body spray, though, please, call the authorities).These fond, fungal memories in mind, I hobbled down to the local Asian grocery store and procured a bag of dried shitake mushrooms for some culinary experimentation. With the dried shitakes, you have to make sure to give them a good warm soak so that they return to form. It is recommended that you soake them in hot water for at least 30 minutes, but my mother says to soak them overnight. I defer to Mom in cases such as this, but you can try 30 minutes if you’re short on time.
For this recipe, the base is shitakes and snowpeas. I added in chicken and tofu for a bit more protein and heartiness, but here is the basic recipe I prepared for this meal.
Shitake Mushrooms and Snowpeas
- 1 lb. of snow peas
- 2 cups of shitake mushrooms (dried)
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 2 tsp diced garlic
- 2 tsp. vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 tsp. sesame oil
- 2 tsp. brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp. oyster sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 lb. diced chicken
- 1.5 cup diced firm tofu
- Soak the dried shitake mushrooms in hot water for at least 30 minutes. Overnight if possible. Slice the mushrooms into 1/2 inch pieces.
- Trim the ends off the snow peas and wash.
- Heat the oils in the pan. Add onions and brown for 3 minutes. Add garlic, making sure not to let it burn.
- Sautee the mushrooms until they begin to brown slightly. Add sugar. Cook for about 5 minutes.
- Add soy sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add the snow peas and cook for about 3-4 minutes. Cook them so they are tender but crunchy.
- Turn off heat and add oyster sauce. Serve with white jasmine rice.
If cooking with chicken, add the chicken after the oil and garlic and cook until the pieces are almost cooked through. Tofu can be added around the same time as the snow peas. If you want to have a bit of a thicker sauce to the dish, add a mixture of 1 tsp of corn starch to 1/4 cup water, mix together, and then add to the pan.