My Lunch Can Beat Up Your Lunch!

Bento Food: Simmered shiitake mushrooms


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Trilobite!Shiitake are very flavorful, and more substantial than the salad and enoki mushrooms we're used to. This dish has been likened to vegetarian steak. I don't know about that, but it is filling and tasty, and goes well over rice.

What you need:

  • About 20 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • Water in which to soak the mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup of water reserved from the mushroom-soaking stage
  • 1.5 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp of soy sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp of sugar
  • Sesame oil, if desired

Soak the shiitake mushrooms in water overnight. Use a bowl or pot, fill it with enough water to cover the mushrooms comfortably, and then put a plate on top of the mushrooms to keep them completely submerged. When it's time to cook 'em, gently squeeze each mushroom to remove excess water, then cut the stem off. Reserve 1/2 cup of the now-mushroom-infused water for this recipe. (In fact, it's not a bad idea to save the rest of the water to add its flavor to other dishes. Mushroomy rice, okonomiyaki, couscous, yum!) Mix the soy sauce and sugar with the reserved water.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan or wok, and stir-fry the mushrooms on high heat for five minutes, stirring all the while. Then add the soy/sugar/water mixture, turn the heat down to low, and let it simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed. Finally, sprinkle it with a few drops of sesame oil (if desired) stir one more time, slice the mushrooms into bite-sized strips, and serve.