Fragrant, meaty mushrooms cooked with one of the tastiest stir-fry sauces, King Oyster Mushroom with Garlic Sauce is an exciting vegetarian dish packed with rich flavours.
A few months ago, I found a “new product” in the vegetable section of my local supermarket (in England): King Oyster Mushrooms. I was overjoyed by this discovery. Fragrant & meaty, they are adored and made into many delicious dishes by Chinese chefs and home cooks. Today’s recipe shows you how to serve them with the famous Sichuan garlic sauce.
What is king oyster mushroom
As its name suggests, king oyster mushroom (杏鲍菇) belongs to the oyster mushroom family and it’s the largest kind of this genus. Unlike common oyster mushrooms which have big caps and small stems, king oyster mushroom has a fairly small, round cap, but a large, chunky stem which is the main part to enjoy in dishes.
What makes King oyster mushroom special is its rich umami flavour and its firm, springy texture which resembles that of abalone (marine snails). That explains why you find the character “鲍”, meaning abalone, in the Chinese name of king oyster mushroom.
There are many ways to enjoy this delicacy. I love it in hot pot, simply grilled with salt & spices or in a good stir-fry, like today’s recipe, with Sichuan garlic sauce.
What is garlic sauce
Garlic sauce refers to a type of stir fry seasoning which originated in Sichuan and which creates a complex flavour known as “Yu Xiang/鱼香”, literally meaning “Fish Fragrant”. In fact, you don’t find any fish element in the making of garlic sauce. There are two popular theories explaining the reason behind the name:
- It is believed that the seasoning used in Yu Xiang dishes was inspired by the way fish was traditionally prepared in Sichuan.
- The pickled chillies used in Yu Xiang sauce were traditionally fermented with a whole fish in the jar. Have a look at the image of this unique type of pickle that I saw on my Culinary Tour of China last year.
Here is the list of ingredients for the garlic sauce which creates a tangy, spicy, sweet & sour taste.
- Garlic. Use a generous amount and mince it well.
- Chillies. You may use fresh chillies. However, If time permits I highly recommend you make some Pickled Chili Garlic Sauce which offers a more complex flavour.
- Black rice vinegar
- Soy sauce
- Shaoxing rice wine. You may replace it with Baijiu (Chinese white liquor) or dry sherry.
- Cornstarch. It’s for thickening the sauce to nicely coat the mushrooms.
Sichuan garlic sauce goes well with both meat and vegetable ingredients. You can find other delicious dishes using the same set of ingredients on my blog, such as Shredded Pork with Garlic Sauce (鱼香肉丝), Eggplant with Garlic Sauce (鱼香茄子)， Pan-fried Tofu with Garlic Sauce (鱼香豆腐).
The stir-fry procedures
Like many other Chinese stir-fry dishes, it’s super simple to cook this King oyster mushroom with garlic sauce. Since it takes only 2-3 minutes from start to finish, you need to have all the ingredients ready at hand, meaning all the vegetables chopped and the sauce well mixed. Here are the simple steps:
1. Heat up the oil. Firstly fry garlic until fragrant.
2. Stir in king oyster mushrooms. During this step, you are aiming to extract some of the moisture from the mushrooms.
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3. When the mushrooms brown on the edge, add wood ear mushroom & fresh chilli. Stir fry for a minute or so.
4. Pour in the sauce. Make sure you stir it very well beforehand as the starch tends to sink to the bottom.
5. Stir in the scallions. Then turn off the heat as soon as the sauce thickens.
It’s very common to serve this dish with plain rice, along with other savoury dishes (vegetarian or not). Sometimes I serve it as a topping for noodles. It works very well too.
More Vegetarian Dishes
On the hunt for more Chinese vegetarian dishes? Check out these recipes:
- Sichuan Braised Tofu
- Hot & Sour Napa Cabbage
- Homegrown Mung Bean Stir-fry
- Egg Drop Soup with Tomato
- Century Egg Salad
- Chinese Potato Stir-fry