During reunion dinners on the eve of the Chinese New Year, one dish that you can never miss out is Chinese Braised Shiitake Mushrooms. This dish is considered auspicious by the Chinese because it contains mushrooms which represents wholeness, dried oysters (‘ho xi’ in Cantonese or ‘hao shi’ in mandarin) which represents all good things, and ‘fatt choy’ – a thin hair-like black mossy vegetable, which symbolizes prosperity!
Eating braised mushrooms every Chinese New Year has been my family tradition for as long as I can remember, from the time when my mother used to cook this dish for the family. (See my 7 picks for reunion dinner family favourites here!) At that time, we only got to eat braised mushrooms on auspicious occasions like Chinese New Year or during our grandparents’ or parents’ birthdays, because it was considered to be a luxurious delicacy. As I was preparing this dish for our recent Chinese New Year preview family lunch, the flavourful aroma that wafted out from the kitchen while the mushrooms were being braised reminded me of the joyful and happy memories of the many Chinese New Year celebrations with my parents and siblings in the past. Now that I have my own children and grandchildren, I continue to uphold this family tradition by making braised mushrooms during Chinese New Year every year without fail.
Note: For Special Diets, please read the notes at the bottom for suggested modifications.
Chinese Braised Shiitake Mushrooms
Chinese Braised Shiitake Mushrooms is one must-have dish that you can't miss out in your reunion dinner celebrations this Chinese New Year
INGREDIENTS FOR CHINESE BRAISED SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS (serves 10)
- Dried Chinese Shiitake Mushroom (medium-sized), 200gm
- Dried Scallop, 5-6
- Ginger, a thumb size
- Pork Fats, 40gm
- Rock Sugar, 2 small pieces
- Oyster Sauce, 11/2 TBsp
- Light Soya Sauce, 1 tsp
- Dark Soya Sauce, 1/2 tsp
- Water, 1.4 litres
- Fatt Choy, 20 gm
- Corn Flour, 21/2 tsp
- Salt, to taste
- Parsley, 1 stalk
PREPARATION FOR CHINESE BRAISED SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS (30 mins)
- Wash the pork fat and cut into 2cm squares
- Wash the scallop and soak in hot water for 30 mins
- Wash the mushroom and soak in hot water for 30 mins.
- Soak the Fatt Choy in tap water until it expands ( abt 5-10 mins).
- Wash the Fatt Choy a few times and squeeze dry. Put aside for later use.
- When the mushrooms are soft, remove the stalk
- Squeeze the mushroom dry individually and set aside.
- Wash the ginger and remove the skin. Grate it and squeeze out the juice.
- Add the ginger juice to the mushrooms and rub it in with your hands and let stand for 30 mins. Wash the parsley and cut into 3 cm lengthwise.
COOKING METHOD FOR CHINESE BRAISED SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS (2hr 30 min)
- Place the diced pork fats in the wok and fry over medium heat until the fats become golden brown and crispy. Turn off the heat.
- Place the pork lard on a metal sieve and drain. Once cool, place the lard in an air tight container for later use.
- Pour out the oil and leaving 3 TBsp in the wok
- Put the mushroom in the wok and stir fry it till it is well coated with the oil over medium heat for a minute or 2.
- Add in the 1.4 litres of water, scallop including the water from the soaked scallop and mushrooms ( sieved first),1 1/2 TBsp oyster sauce, 1/2 tsp black soya sauce, 1 tsp light soya sauce, rock sugar and 1 TBsp of the crispy lard. Stir to mix well.
- Transfer the mushroom mixture into a pot and let it cook over high heat. Once the water is boiling, turn the heat to medium low and let it simmer for 1 hour.
- Turn the heat to low and continue to simmer for another 1 to 1 1/2 hour. If the water is not sufficient, more can be added making sure that the water covers just above the mushroom. You will need to stir constantly to prevent the mushroom from getting burnt.
- (Optional) Add the Fatt Choy to the mushroom during the last 10 minutes of the cooking time.
- Add salt if necessary.
- Mix 1 TBsp of water to the corn flour and mix well.
- Slowly pour in the cornflour to the mushroom stirring it until the gravy thickens.
- Dish up the mushroom on a platter. Top with the crispy lard and parsley and serve hot.
TOP TIPS FOR CHINESE BRAISED SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS
- You need to remove the stalk from the shiitake mushroom. The stalk will spoil the smooth texture of the mushroom because of it is hard, fibrous and chewy. For this reason, you should allow choose shiitake mushrooms with shorter stems to minimise wastage. Read my short explanation on how to choose shiitake mushroom and how to identify the different grades of shiitake mushrooms for more tips!
- Don’t overcook the mushroom and use just enough water to cover 1 inch above the mushroom, otherwise it will become tasteless.
- Lard oil, lard and ginger juice are added to enhance the fragrance and texture of the shiitake mushroom. The lard gives the braised mushroom a very smooth and slippery texture.
- Another ingredient that makes the mushroom smooth and glossy is the rock sugar. Do not add too much otherwise it will taste like sweet dessert.
- The longer you braise the shiitake mushroom, the better it will taste.
- This is very important: Do not add in the corn flour until it is about to be served. Once the corn flour is added, the mushrooms will get stuck to the bottom of the pot and will get burnt very easily. Once burnt, the mushrooms will taste awful.
- The crispy lard should be added on top of the mushroom just before serving so that it will remain crispy.
- If you are healthy conscious, you can omit the lard oil and the lard. Use sunflower oil instead.
- Nowadays many people, including restaurants, do not use Fatt Choy anymore because most of the time it is fake. The supply of genuine Fatt Choy is quite scarce now because of over harvesting in the past, so do beware when buying Fatt Choy, and only do so if you know the seller well. We shouldn’t be paying a high price for fake stuff.
- If you plan to include Fatt Choy, be sure not to cook the Fatt Choy for too long otherwise it will disintegrate and turn mushy.
- Typically, Cantonese people like to add dried oysters to this Braised Shiitake Mushroom dish, but my family and I don’t like the taste of dried oyster, which is why I omitted it. If you would like to add dried oysters, you will need to soak them with hot water for 30 mins. Dried oysters usually have a lot of sandy particles and you need to wash them thoroughly and scrap off any sand which may be stuck on the oysters. Add the oysters to the mushroom during the last 30 mins of the cooking time before the mushrooms are done.
- If the parsley turns limp, you can revive it by putting it into a big bowl of ice water. It will plump up again in no time.
- Chinese Braised Shiitake Mushroom tastes better if it is cooked a day before. It can also be kept in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
- Any leftover braised mushroom can converted into another dish. For example, you can cut broccoli into bite size pieces, and blanch the broccoli in a pot of water with some oil and salt for about 7 minutes. Next, drain the broccoli and arrange it around the edges of a serving dish. Place the braised mushrooms in the centre of the dish and serve.
Suggested Modifications for Special Diets
- Baby/Toddler-Friendly: Mushrooms can be introduced to babies at around 10 – 12 months.
- Child-Friendly: No modifications needed.
- Confinement: No modifications needed.
- Egg-Free: No modifications needed.
- Fish-Free: No modifications needed.
- Gluten-Free: Ensure that the condiments you are using (oyster sauce, light and dark soy sauce) are gluten-free
- Nut-Free: No modifications needed.
- Shellfish-Free: Skip the dried scallop. Use vegetarian oyster sauce.
- Vegan: Skip the dried scallop, lard and lard oil. Use sunflower oil instead. Use vegetarian oyster sauce.
- Vegetarian: Skip the dried scallop, lard and lard oil. Use sunflower oil instead. Use vegetarian oyster sauce.
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|About The Burning Kitchen|
Hi! We are Bee Leng and Melissa, the mother-daughter team behind The Burning Kitchen. We love home cooking and we love sharing our family’s recipes with the world. We only ever share proven recipes that we have perfected ourselves, and which we write-up from scratch (no hidden steps, no secret sauces). And the best part is: our recipes are full of fantastic, and often, surprisingly easy tips from years of experience, that is bound to improve your cooking regardless of your current level! Read more.