Chinese Sweet and Sour Shiitake Mushrooms
This recipe is one of my favorites. It is a great side dish or base for an entree, adding a piece of fish, chicken, or tofu. Chefs love to use mushrooms because of their rich meaty flavor and their ability to intensify the flavor of many dishes.
Mushrooms are used in abundance in Chinese cuisine, often using dried mushrooms. Drying mushrooms intensifies the flavor. Whenever we dehydrate or dry an ingredient, we take the water out of it, so the flavor is more concentrated. When frying mushrooms, as we will in this recipe, using the dried mushroom with the water removed will yield a crisper product without losing the mushroom's wonderful meatiness.
As you read through the recipe, you may find a handful of ingredients that you have never seen or heard of before. That is ok! If you have a local Asian market, they will have all of these. If not, there are many fitting substitutes that you can find in your local grocery store. I have made notes adjacent to the ingredients.
Sweet and Sour Shiitake Mushrooms
9 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 TBSP Shaoxing wine (or sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar)
3 TBSP sugar
2 TBSP Chinkiang vinegar (or rice vinegar)
¼ tsp dark soy sauce (optional)
2 tsp light soy sauce
1" ginger, sliced into matchsticks
¼ cup potato starch (or cornstarch)
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 large oyster mushrooms, stemmed
½ green bell pepper, sliced thin
½ red bell pepper, sliced thin
1 tsp sesame oil
Oil for frying
Place dried shiitake mushrooms in a heatproof bowl; cover with boiling water. Let sit for 20 to 30 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine the Shaoxing wine, sugar, Chinkiang vinegar, dark soy sauce, and light soy sauce. Set this aside. This will be the sauce.
Remove the mushrooms from the soaking liquid and squeeze out any excess water. Discard any stems and slice the mushrooms into ½ inch strips. In a wok, heat 2 inches of oil to 375° F. Dredge the shiitake mushrooms in the potato starch and fry them in the oil until they are golden and crisp, 2-4 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the oil onto a towel-lined plate to drain any excess oil. Carefully drain your wok of the oil and wipe it clean.
Add one tablespoon of oil to your wok and heat it on high. Add the ginger and garlic and stir fry them until fragrant, about 60 seconds. Now add the sauce and stir it until the sugar dissolves and boils. Add the bell peppers, fried shiitakes, and oyster mushrooms. Stir-fry the mixture for 3-4 minutes, coating it well, then remove it from the heat to a serving bowl and finish it with the sesame oil.
Chef Liza Greifinger
Your Guide to Our Culinary Trip Around the World
Growing up in New York, surrounded by the flavors of the world, Liza developed a love for food and cooking. After a fulfilling career in outdoor education, she decided to explore her passion for food. Liza studied at The French Culinary Institute and then trained with some of the top chefs in New York City before being drawn to the mountains of Colorado. She joined the team at Food Lab, in Boulder, in the spring of 2016. There she teaches cooking skills and technique to all ages as well as curriculum development for the educational programs.