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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Cookbook Challenge: Week 16, Noodles

Recipe: Chinese mushrooms with cellophane noodles
From: Chinese, the essence of Asian cooking

The theme for this week's Cookbook Challenge is "noodles" and for the recipe I've gone very Chinese. And by very Chinese, I mean - I'm not sure anyone but us Asians would eat this. :p

This week I made Chinese (shiitake) mushrooms with cellophane noodles. This is a very hearty vegetarian dish, that contains shiitake mushrooms, bean curd skins, fermented bean curd and wood ears/black fungus. It's very filling. I ate a bowl of it and felt like I had eaten a seven course banquet!

Wood ear / black fungus
Left: dried wood ear. Right: rehydrated wood ear

Are you wondering what wood ears are? They're an edible fungus, commonly sold dried, and they're used for their texture as they don't have much flavour on their own. The texture is firm, gelatinous and slightly crunchy and they soak up the flavours of whatever they're cooked in.

Chinese mushrooms with cellophane noodles

I love the strong, meatiness of shiitake mushrooms, so I really enjoyed them in this dish. I've never been a huge fan of dried bean curd though, and I think there was far too much in this recipe. It made it all taste very "beany". I think halving, or even quartering the amount specified in the recipe would be a good idea.

But I'll just have to get over the "beaniness" of the dish since I have rather a lot left over. Alastair tried it and didn't like it, so it looks like it's up to me!

See previous Cookbook Challenge posts here

Update: See the round up at My Food Trail.

Chinese mushrooms with cellophane noodles

Chinese mushrooms with cellophane noodles

From Chinese, the essence of Asian cooking

Serves 4

115g dried Chinese mushrooms
25g dried wood ears
115g dried bean curd, broken into small pieces
30 ml vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 slices fresh ginger, finely chopped
10 Szechuan peppercorns, crushed
15ml (about 1 tablespoon) red fermented bean curd
1/2 star anise
pinch of sugar
15-30ml soy sauce
50g cellophane noodles, soaked in hot water until soft

In separate bowls, soak the Chinese mushroom, wood ears and dried bean curd in plenty of hot water for 30 minutes.

Strain the mushrooms, squeezing out as much liquid as possible, and reserving the liquid. Discard the stems and cut the mushrooms in half if they are vey big.

Drain the wood ears, rinse thoroughly and cut into 2-3cm pieces.

In a heavy based pan, heat the oil, and add the garlic, ginger and Szechuan peppercorns. Fry for a few seconds, then add the mushrooms and red fermented bean curd. Stir and fry for several minutes.

Add the reserved mushroom liquid to the pan, with enough liquid to completely cover the mushrooms. Add the star anise, sugar and soy sauce, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the chopped wood ears and reconstituted drained bean curd pieces to the pan. Cover and cook for another 10 minutes.

Drain the noodles and add them to the pan and cook for another 10 minutes, or until tender. Add more liquid if necessary. Season with salt to taste and serve.

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