This dish comprises braised mushroom of meaty texture and blanched bok choy full of crunchiness. It’s a healthy and tasty side dish that only takes 10 minutes to cook.
Braised mushroom with bok choy is a classic Chinese dish known as Xiang Gu Cai Xin (香菇菜心). It’s one of the easiest yet most delicious vegetable dishes that you can make.
Shiitake mushrooms braised in an umami-rich sauce until tender and meaty, then served over a bed of crisp bok choy. The two ingredients are perfectly complemented to one another and create a delicious blend of flavours and texture. If you have not tried this yet, it is high time you do!
Two key ingredients
As the name of the dish suggests, mushrooms and bok choy are two key ingredients in making this recipe.
Dried shiitake mushrooms
Shiitake mushrooms are popularly used in Chinese cuisine. Classic examples include Hot and Sour Soup, Steamed Chicken and Mushrooms, Hot Pot, and as a filling for dumplings. Here are a few things you need to know about these edible mushrooms:
- Although fresh shiitake is available in some markets and stores, it’s the dried ones that are called for in most Chinese recipes. The latter provides a much more intense and complex taste which adds depth to a dish.
- To rehydrate dried shiitake, you may soak them in cold water overnight for best results or in hot water for an hour if pressed for time. Fully rehydrated shiitake should be soft and plump.
- They have an aromatic taste and meaty mouthfeel when cooked, making them one of the best vegan substitutes for meats.
Substitute: If you cannot find shiitake, a great substitute would be king oyster mushrooms. They have an earthy taste and are also meaty, though a bit chewier than shiitake.
Also called pak choi/choy, Chinese chard, or Chinese mustard, bok choy has spoon-shaped green leaves and bulbous white stalks. The taste loosely resembles that of spinach but with a hint of peppery flavour. Often blanched, it is commonly used as toppings for rice bowls and noodle dishes. When buying, always make sure to check the following:
- Select a cluster that has bright green leaves that are not wilted and have no visible bug chomps.
- The stems should be pale green to off-white and should be firm with no brown spots on them.
To make the flavourful, glossy sauce, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Oyster sauce (Vegan substitutes: vegetarian stir-fry sauce/素食蚝油, or mushroom vegetarian stir-fry sauce/香菇素食蚝油)
- Dark soy sauce. It’s darker, thicker than light/regular soy sauce and adds an appetising colour to the dish.
- Cornstarch. Mix it with water to make a slurry. It helps to thicken the sauce.
- Sesame oil. It adds a nutty flavour to the dish.
- Salt & sugar
- Neutral cooking oil
Once you have all the ingredients at hand, it will take you only a few minutes to have the dish on your table!
Step 1: Blanch the bok choy
Wash bok choy thoroughly under running water without separating the leaves. Slice each cluster in half lengthwise.
Put them in a pot with plenty of boiling water, then add some salt and oil. Cook for about 40 seconds. Scoop them out immediately and let drain in a colander. It’s important that you do not overcook them. The leaves should look bright green and the stems still crisp and juicy.
Step 2: Braise the mushrooms
Squeeze rehydrated shiitake mushrooms to remove any excess water, then trim off the stems. Make sure to keep the soaking water as you will use it later for the sauce.
Fry minced garlic in a heated wok with a little oil until aromatic, then add the mushrooms. Stir fry for 20 seconds or so.
Add the mushroom soaking water to the wok (be careful not to include any solid bits at the bottom of the bowl). Bring to a boil, then add oyster sauce, dark soy sauce, and sugar. Leave to simmer for about 5 minutes (without a lid).
Pour in the cornstarch slurry (stir well beforehand) together with sesame oil. Stir well then let it simmer until the sauce thickens enough to coat your spatula.
Step 3: Combine and Serve
Place the blanched bok choy on your serving plate, then pour the braised mushroom on top. Serve it while still warm with steamed rice, and some protein-rich dishes. Here are a few pairing examples:
Braised Mushroom with Bok Choy (香菇菜心)
- 50 g dried shiitake mushroom, see note 1 for substitutes
- 400 g bok choy
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1½ tablespoon neutral cooking oil, divided
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoon oyster sauce, see note 2 for vegan substitutes
- ½ teaspoon dark soy sauce
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- 1 dash sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch, mixed with 2 tablespoon water
Rehydrate the mushrooms
- Soak dried shiitake mushrooms in 500 ml of water (about 2 cups) until they become plump. Overnight soaking in cold water produces the best result. Otherwise, use the hot water method to speed up. You’ll need 1 hour for small-sized mushrooms.
- Take out the mushrooms and squeeze out excess water (keep the soaking water for later use). Trim off the stem, then set aside.
Blanch the bok choy
- Wash bok choy thoroughly under tap water without separating the leaves. Halve each one lengthwise.
- Bring plenty of water in a wok/pot to a full boil. Add the salt and ½ tablespoon of oil. Put in the bok choy and leave to cook for 40 seconds or so until the leaves have just become wilted. Pour into a colander to drain well.
Braise the mushroom
- Heat up a wok. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and garlic. Fry until fragrant then put in the mushrooms. Stir fry for 20 seconds or so.
- Slowly pour in 250 ml (about 1 cup) of the mushroom soaking water (be careful not to pour in any solid bits at the bottom of the bowl). Once the water starts boiling, add oyster sauce, dark soy sauce, and sugar. Leave to simmer uncovered over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes.
- Add sesame oil and the cornstarch slurry (stir well right before pouring). Simmer until the sauce becomes thick enough to cover your spatula.
Combine and serve
- Lay the bok choy on a serving plate. Pour the mushrooms and the sauce over. Serve with steamed rice, along with other protein-rich dishes.