Asian Mushrooms with Asparagus
2 pieces dried white fungus
2 tablespoons dried small black fungus
or 2 pieces dried large black fungus
12 dried shiitake mushrooms
250 g/8 oz fresh button mushrooms
or oyster mushrooms
2 tablespoons peanut oil or light olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
3 tablespoons Japanese soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
60 g/2 oz butter
250 g/8 oz fresh green asparagus
cut in bite-sized lengths
1 teaspoon cornflour (cornstarch), optional
Soak the dried fungus and mushrooms in separate bowls of hot water for 20-30 minutes, depending on the thickness of the mushrooms. The thick, top-quality mushrooms require longer soaking than those with thin caps. Squeeze out and save mushroom soaking water, trim off stems and cut caps into halves or quarters. Rinse fungus and cut into bite-sized pieces, discarding any tough gritty bits. Thickly slice or halve the button mushrooms or oyster mushrooms.
Heat a wok, add oil and swirl to coat surface. Fry the shiitake mushrooms for a few minutes, then add garlic and ginger, stir-frying until golden. Add 2 cups of the mushroom soaking liquid mixed with soy sauce and sugar, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add all remaining fungus and fresh mushrooms, stir well, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in butter.
Add asparagus and toss over high heat. If liquid has reduced, add 1/2 cup hot water or mushroom water, cover and cook for 2 minutes or until asparagus is just tender. If liked, thicken sauce by stirring in 1 teaspoon cornflour mixed with a tablespoon of cold water until it boils and becomes clear. Serve at once.
Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)