I easily associate this braised shiitake mushrooms with all traditional Chinese festivals, like Winter Solstice (冬至), Chinese New Year’s Eve, as my mum used to cook it on these occasions. During my childhood, when I saw this dish served on our dinner table, I’d feel that we’re enjoying a luxury meal simply because mushrooms were quite pricey at that time. Although big and best quality shiitake mushrooms are still very expensive now, we can get smaller ones with good quality at much cheaper price for substitute. We are quite satisfied with their texture and taste.
My mum’s braised mushrooms are the family’s most favourite. Her braised mushrooms were incredibly velvety and shiny. The simple trick she used is to add a little block of rock sugar, about thumb size. On a side note, she won’t compromise in using second grade oyster sauce whenever she cooks this dish. It’s a great pleasure in tasting every bite of her mushrooms, in fact, it’s very addictive.
As usual, I cooked this dish on the day of Winter Solstice, followed my mum’s way. The dish I cooked isn’t as good as my mother’s, but our family was rather satisfied with the end result, that was very delicious. And I’m going to make this dish again on Chinese New Year’s Eve for sure.
But for now, 2011 is coming tomorrow! Happy New Year to all my readers!
Braised Shiitake Mushrooms in Oyster Sauce (Printable recipe)
- 8 to 10 dried Chinese shiitake mushrooms
- 1 thumb-sized rock sugar, about 8 to 10 gm
- a few drops of oil
- lettuce, for garnish
- cornflour, for rinsing mushrooms
- 1 tsp light soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp oyster sauce
- 2 tsp cornflour/potato starch
- 2 Tbsp water
- sesame oil, to taste
- Rinse mushrooms and soak in water for about 30 minutes, or until soft enough that you can trim the stems. Rinse away any dirts or impurities. Change clean water and continue to soak until mushrooms completely softened. Drain out the mushrooms. Save the soaking water for later use. Use a handful of cornflour to mix with the mushrooms and rub with your hand. Set aside for 15 minutes, then rinse.
- Use a deep pot, add the mushrooms, soaking water, rock sugar and a few drops of oil. Cook over medium-high heat. Bring it to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until water dries up and thickens. Add more water if necessary along the way. Pour in the seasonings and stir to combine. Taste by yourself. Season with soy sauce or sugar if needed.
- Meanwhile, blanch lettuce in boiling water with a bit of oil for 1 to 2 minutes. Don’t overcook, it should be a bit crunchy in texture. Drain well. Transfer on a serving plate. Arrange the mushrooms, and ladle sauce on top. Serve hot.
- The bigger mushrooms would be better, but more expensive. But you don’t have to buy those expensive ones. Those smaller ones are of budget choice. Don’t go for those with thin flesh though. Try to choose the ones with thicker flesh, in shiny black colour. Normally, they come in sealed plastic bag. But if you have any chance, smell some samples before you buy. If the mushrooms smell sweet fragrance, they are of good quality.
- By adding a small block of rock sugar, the braised mushrooms become shiny.
- By rubbing the mushroom flesh with a bit of cornflour, then rinse, it helps to make the flesh smoother and velvety.