Thursday, November 21, 2019

Pressure Cooker Braised Chinese Mushrooms with Noodles | 珍菌香菇素煨麵

Earlier this summer I stumbled into a cozy local health-food cafe in the heart of the Mongkok Flower Market looking to fill my midday hunger pang. Nutritious soups, tonics and healthy desserts aside, the menu features a one and only savory and more substantial signature dish - noodles with braised assorted Chinese mushrooms - with a brief description of its health-giving properties. The bowl of noodles was simple, tasty and comforting, and perfect for a light lunch or dinner; I thought I could easily make a similar version at home with my own mix of mushrooms I have in the pantry.

Each type of precious fungi contributes to creating a complex blend of intense flavors, aroma and rich textures

Every now and then, our generally meat-heavy diet at the workplace or in dining out gets me feeling in need of a break - a desperate longing for staying in and cooking something light, satisfying, and completely meat-free, something as basic as braised mushrooms. Dried mushrooms come to the rescue on days when I am just too lazy to go all out on market visits and meal prep. Thanks to their superb meatiness, Chinese dried shiitake and monkey head mushrooms can easily be the star of any vegetarian or vegan main event. As long as they are stored in a cool place and away from direct sunlight (sometimes even in the freezer), dried mushrooms keep well and make a good pantry staple.

Cut cooking time down with a pressure cooker like this Vitavit® by Fissler
Chinese braised mushrooms is familiar to many, as they frequently make appearance at banquets and especially during Chinese New Year celebrations, where special, festive occasions will often call for the most premium grade of mushrooms braised in oyster sauce and served on a bed of greens. As Chinese mushrooms already pack a heady punch of aroma on their own, they do not require heavy seasoning, although a touch of sweet and extra umami does bring out the best of them (in comes the ever indispensable oyster sauce, whose vegetarian version is now widely available in supermarkets).

At home, braised mushrooms can be just as simply prepared, with the cooking time significantly reduced with an instant pot or pressure cooker. You can opt for the most purist of all and use only Chinese dried shiitake, or use a medley of precious fungi to create a complex blend of aroma and texture unique to each type of mushroom.

The soaking liquid, rich with intense mushroom flavor, provides the "stock" - do not discard after soaking!
Monkey head mushrooms - so named for its resemblance - are like sponges that plump up in water and add incredible depth of flavor, aroma, and a juicy, spongey bite. Porcini (I recently picked up a bag on my travels to Yunnan, China) adds richness and earthiness; while the brightly orange Cordyceps militaris brings crunch and a mild bitterness along with its purported potential to improve heart health and fight inflammation, cancer, diabetes and aging. As always, experiment your own blend and use what you have on hand!

To complete the simple dish, add a side of Asian greens and ladle the braised mushrooms over your favorite noodles, be it udon, somen, buckwheat soba, or thin egg noodles. Perhaps the most enlightening light bulb moment I had at the health-food cafe was their use of chopped Chinese celery as a garnish, which adds an uncanny layer of pleasant, medicinal flavor and crunch to the braised mushrooms. Spoon the intensely flavored mushroom "gravy" over and lunch is served!

50 g small Chinese dried shiitake mushroom
2 heads dried monkey head mushroom
12 g dried porcini (or other mushroom of choice)
15 g Cordyceps militaris
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 inch ginger, sliced
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
3 tablespoons oyster sauce, regular or vegetarian
1 tablespoon soy sauce
20 g rock sugar
1 star anise
3 cups (700 ml) water
1 tablespoon cornstarch (mixed with 1 tablespoon water)

Serve with:
Chinese celery, chopped | noodles of choice | greens of choice

1. Give the Chinese mushroom, monkey head mushroom, and porcini a quick rinse, then place in a large bowl and submerge in 3 cups of water for 30 mins. Trim any hard stems if necessary. Tear the monkey head mushrooms apart into smaller chunks. Squeeze excess water out of the mushrooms, reserving the soaking water. Give the Cordyceps militaris mushrooms a good rinse and set aside.

2. In instant pot, add sesame oil on medium heat. Add sliced ginger and mushrooms and stir fry for 10 seconds. Stir in the Shaoxing wine.

3. Carefully pour in the mushroom soaking water, making sure that you do not pour in any sediment or dirt from the water.

4. When the liquid comes to a simmer, stir in the oyster sauce, soy sauce, rock sugar, and star anise. Then, on medium-high heat, fasten the pressure cooker lid and set the cooking display with traffic light function on level II. Once the green ring becomes visible, reduce heat to low and set timer for 8 minutes.

5. When time is up, set the cooker aside to cool and release pressure after several minutes. Next, mix the cornstarch slurry, unfasten lid, and slowly pour in slurry while stirring constantly. Bring the contents to a boil again then turn heat off.  Remove ginger slices and star anise.

6. Arrange cooked noodles of choice and greens in a bowl, then ladle over a generous scoop of braised mushrooms and sauce. Sprinkle over chopped Chinese celery and enjoy! 

Note: to cook without using an instant pot, simply extend cooking time to 30 - 45 mins or until mushrooms are cooked and tender.

Tried this recipe?
Share with me or leave a comment! #alvinspenthousekitchen 
Find me on Instagram @alvinckl and @alvin.penthousekitchen and follow my Facebook Fan Page!

【 珍菌香菇素煨麵 】

珍珠冬菇                      50 克
猴頭菇                           2 枚
牛肝菌                           12 克
蟲草花                           15 克
麻油                                2 茶匙
                                   1 寸,切片
紹興酒                           1 湯匙
蠔油或素蠔油              3 湯匙
生抽                                1 湯匙
冰糖                                20 克
八角                                1 顆
                                    700 毫升
粟粉                                1 湯匙,打芡用

芹菜,切粒 | 麵條 | 青菜

1. 冬菇、猴頭菇、牛肝菌過水略為洗淨後以清水浸軟。猴頭菇去蒂並用手撕成小件。把多餘水份擠出,保留浸菇水備用。蟲草花洗淨備用。
2. 高速煲燒熱後下麻油,爆香薑片及雜菇。
3. 加入紹興酒後調大火加入浸菇水,注意把水中雜質隔開。
4. 加入蠔油、生抽、冰糖及八角。待水滾後蓋上高速鍋蓋,調校至 2 速,用中火煲至見綠環後轉慢火,計時 8 分鐘後熄火。
5. 粟粉加入一湯匙室溫水拌勻將高速煲裡剩餘蒸氣排放後開蓋,倒入芡汁並以大火收汁,約一分鐘。把火熄掉,去除薑片和八角。
6.  把煮好的麵條、青菜放在碗裡,鋪上珍菌香菇和醬汁,最後撒上芹菜粒即成!

備註:不用高速煲,可依傳統做法 — 只要把所有燉煮材料用大火煮滾後收中慢火,蓋上煲子,煮 30 至 45 分鐘後打

Tried this recipe?
Share with me or leave a comment! #alvinspenthousekitchen 
Find me on Instagram @alvinckl and @alvin.penthousekitchen and follow my Facebook Fan Page!