Stewed Shitake Mushrooms, Dried Oyster, & Sea Cucumber
Posted March 15, 2010on:
Malaysians have an unusual taste for dried seafood, meat, and vegetables. Drying not only preserves them but it also concentrates the flavor, resulting in an almost pungent aroma that we grew to love. In the case of seafood, the smell of sea permeates through the living room when you cook them – not like fresh seawater but more like sun dried umami kind of savoriness. It’s a love-hate relationship, if you ask me. It’s something so good I wouldn’t mind having it everyday, yet I wouldn’t want the smell in my bedroom. =)
Mom made this dish during Chinese New Year and watching her make this makes me appreciate it even more because the preparation was very lengthy. It involves a lot of soaking and hours of stewing until the ingredients are tender. When cooked, the thick shitake mushrooms and sea cucumbers soak up all the amazing flavors from the oysters and they are lovely when serve with rice. This costs an arm and a leg in a true authentic Chinese restaurant but you could ‘easily’ make this at home for half the price.
Ingredients (serves 4):
- 10-13 large dried shitake mushrooms, soaked overnight, stems removed and halved
- 8 dried oysters, soaked overnight and halved
- 2-3 sea cucumbers, soaked and gutted (see preparation below)
- oyster sauce
- sweet soy sauce (kicap manis)
- 1-2 tbsp corn starch
- ginger, 2 inch thumb size
- 1 green onion, julienned for garnish
Rehydrating Sea Cucumber
- Soak dried sea cucumbers in a pot with boiling water and leave it overnight.
- Change the water in the morning, every day for two to three days.
- The sea cucumbers should have a chewy hard texture but soft enough to be sliced. Slice lengthwise using a kitchen scissors and clean out the slimy guts and everything inside. Scrap the inside walls as necessary. Give it a good wash.
- Cut the sea cucumber halves into 2 inch sections.
- Cut ginger into small chunks and whizz it in a blender with 1 cup of water until well blended.
- Pour contents through a sieve and reserve ginger water in a bowl. Discard the ginger pulp.
- In a large pot, put mushrooms, sea cucumbers and ginger water together with 2 tablespoon of oyster sauce and 2 tablespoon of sweet soy sauce. Add extra water to fully cover the mushrooms.
- Bring to a boil and lower the heat to medium low. Stew for 4-5 hours with the lid on and check on the water level. Replenish it when necessary.
- Add oysters to the pot when the mushrooms and sea cucumbers are almost al dente. It should be soft but firm when you bite on it. Stew for another hour until they are cooked and has enough water for the gravy.
- Add enough sweet soy sauce until the gravy is dark brown – probably a few tablespoon. Balance the sweetness with oyster sauce, a spoonful at a time.
- Mix corn starch with cold water until it’s somewhat watery. Pour a little into pot and quickly stir it for a minute or so in medium heat until it thickens a little. If it doesn’t, add more corn starch mixture and repeat until desired thickness.
- Garnish with green onions and serve with jasmine rice.
- You may need to stew for more than 5 hours depending on the sea cucumber and mushroom used. Some varieties may need a longer time to cook.
- The gravy should be saucy and smooth, not thick like custard. Add more water to loosen it if it’s too thick.
- I do not have exact measurements because my mom never measure anything when she cooks.