For Miriam’s birthday dinner, she asked for Spicy chicken and pan fried noodles. This is a dish that takes an hour of “mindful” frying and—while it is a wonderful dish—I make it less than my kids would like—like maybe every day. This is a one dish meal by itself, but I decided to add another favorite of Miriam’s and make a mushroom side dish.
Note: I actually used one pound of mushrooms for this dish. It was popular enough that it left people wanting more—even though Eilene would not touch it. I added another half pound of mushrooms to the ingredients list.
My preferred green to go with this dish would be garlic stem (scrapes), but they are almost impossible to find in San Jose. They have an extremely short season, are not considered “profitable” by American farmers, and they are very popular with the local Chinese community, so they are usually gone by the time I get to the store. Failing to find garlic stem, I make do with the similar—but much more available—Chinese chive stems.
Note: These two vegetables look very much the same, but you can tell them apart by their cross sections. Garlic stems have a round stem and the chive stems are more of a diamond shape. If the stem looks like it has corners it is Chinese chive stem.
Karl’s Oyster Mushrooms and Chive Stems in Black Pepper Sauce
1½ lbs. oyster mushrooms
½ lb. chive stems
10 green onions
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 Tbs. peanut oil
1 tsp. cornstarch mixed with 1 Tbs. cool water (optional)
1. Measure the sauce ingredients into a small cup and set them aside.
2. Pull the mushrooms apart and tear any large ones into smaller pieces.
Tip: I cut through the stems and then pull them apart into two or three pieces.
Note: Oyster mushrooms may come in many different sizes—from tiny ones to some almost the size of your hand. When you buy them, look for ones that are dry, not discolored or moldy, and where most of the mushrooms in the package are close to bite sized or larger.
3. Cut the chive stems into 2 inch pieces.
Note: There is very little waste in these stems. I usually trim off an eighth of an inch of the dried cut end and I remove the flower heads. While you may choose to eat these I find them too tough.
4. Cut the green onions into two inch pieces and separate the thick white parts from the green leaves.
5. Heat the peanut oil in a large sauté pan, over a medium high heat, and add the oyster mushrooms.
Tip: After an initial toss to coat the mushrooms with oil, do not over stir the mushrooms. Fresh mushrooms release their moisture too quickly if you knock them around with your spatula. If you are rough with them, the mushrooms will steam, rather than fry, in the excess moisture. Stir the mushrooms once and then let them sit for 1-2 minutes before stirring them again. Let them sit undisturbed again for another minute, before beginning to sauté them in the regular fashion.
6. After the mushrooms have developed some good browning, add the chive stems and the white parts of the green onion to the pan.
7. Continue stir frying for 2-3 minutes, until the vegetables have started to soften.
8. Pull the vegetables to the side of the pan and add the garlic to the hole in the center.
9. Stir fry the garlic, until fragrant, about one minute.
10. Pour the sauce into the pan and mix in the vegetables to coat them.
Tip: If the sauce seems too thin add just enough of the cornstarch mixture to thicken it.
11. Transfer the mushrooms to a serving bowl and serve warm.