Widely used in Asian cuisine, enoki mushroom has a mild flavour and a crunchy texture. It tastes amazing when steamed with garlic sauce. This post shows you how to prepare and cook it properly.
What is enoki mushroom
With a unique appearance, enoki mushroom is one of the most delicate-looking mushrooms in Asian cuisine. Its Chinese name Jin Zhen Gu (金针菇), which literally means golden noodle mushroom, somehow describes its unique look: a cluster of long, thin white stems with tiny white caps on the top.
What does it taste like
Unlike popular Asian mushrooms like shiitake or king oyster, enoki mushroom has a rather mild, slightly fruity taste. What makes it stand out is its crunchy texture which is rare in the mushroom family (another example is wood ear mushroom). It’s also good at attracting flavours from the dressing/sauce thanks to its slim stems.
Where to buy
In Chinese/Asian stores, enoki mushroom usually comes in vacuumed plastic bags and kept in the chilled food section. It needs to be refrigerated before the use-by-date. Good quality enoki mushroom has an off-white colour and feels firm when pressed.
How to prepare it
It takes a few steps to prepare enoki mushroom before cooking. Here is how you do it:
1. Lay a cluster of enoki mushroom on a chopping board. Use a sharp knife to cut off the earthy root section.
2. Use your fingers to gently separate it into bite-sized bundles while checking if there is any noticeable dirt hidden inside.
3. Put into a large bowl filled with clean water. Give it a gentle wash. Replace the water and wash again if necessary. You may also wash it under a running tap.
4. Drain well. If it’s going to be steamed or stir-fried, pat dry with a kitchen towel/kitchen paper.
Ways to cook it
Enoki mushroom plays a versatile role in Chinese cuisine. You can find it cooked in many different ways. Here are some examples.
- Steamed with a sauce (See detailed recipe in later sections)
- Briefly blanched in boiling water (about 1 min) then made into a salad with a dressing (You may use any dressing introduce in the post Chinese Cucumber Salad, Three Ways).
- Stir-fried with aromatics and seasonings on its own or paired with meat, egg or vegetables (Like how you’d make Mung Bean Stir-fry).
- Used as an accompaniment for Sichuan Boiled Fish or Sichuan Boiled Beef.
- Added to a soup dish, such as Egg Drop Soup with Tomato, Hot & Sour Soup, etc.
- Cooked in a Chinese hot pot.
🛎 Tip: Enoki mushrooms are not supposed to be eaten raw. However, no matter which method you’re using, keep cooking time brief as enoki mushrooms tend to be overly chewy if overcooked.
A delicious steamed version
I like enoki mushroom whichever way it’s cooked but I’m particularly fond of the steamed version which I’m introducing to you today. The steaming method ensures that the flavour, nutrition and freshness of the mushroom are maintained to the maximum.
The garlic sauce used for this dish is inspired by the classic Steamed Garlic Prawn with Vermicelli. The ingredients required are simple but the flavour is intensely delicious: garlicky, spicy, savoury, umami with a hint of sweetness.
Step 1: Prepare the mushroom
Prepare and wash enoki mushroom following the instructions explained earlier. Lay the mushroom bundles neatly over a serving plate which can fit into your steaming setup.
🛎 Tip: As some liquid will be extracted from the mushroom during cooking, make sure the plate isn’t too flat.
Step 2: Fry the sauce
In a wok/pan, fry minced garlic and minced fresh chilli in oil over medium heat until fragrant. Turn off the heat. Add light soy sauce, oyster sauce and a little sugar. Mix well then scatter over the mushroom.
🛎 Tip: For an even better taste, you may replace fresh chili with homemade pickled chili garlic sauce which is often used in Chinese steamed dishes to add a complex aroma from fermentation.
🛎 Tip: If you wish to make this dish vegetarian/vegan, replace regular oyster sauce with vegetarian oyster sauce which is known as “mushroom vegetarian stir-fry sauce/素食蚝油”. If none of these is available, you may skip it and increase the volume of light soy sauce accordingly.
Step 3: Steam the dish
Bring water to a full boil in your steaming setup. Carefully put in the mushroom plate (mind the steam!). Cover with a lid and leave to steam for 4 mins (Do not overcook as this will increase the chewiness of the mushroom). Garnish with finely chopped scallions or coriander (cilantro) and serve immediately.
🛎 Tip: You may use any of the following setups for steaming:
- In a wok or a large pot, use a steamer rack (or a small bowl) to support the plate.
- A traditional bamboo steamer basket set in a wok.
- A stovetop metal steamer or an electric plastic steamer.
Other vegetable delicacies
Looking for more healthy dishes made with vegetables? Here are some great examples:
Enoki Mushroom with Garlic Sauce (蒜蓉金针菇)
- 300 g enoki mushroom, 10oz
- 1 tablespoon neutral cooking oil
- 2 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoon minced fresh chili, or homemade pickled chili garlic sauce,
- 2 tablespoon light soy sauce
- ½ tablespoon oyster sauce, see note 1 for the vegetarian option
- 1 pinch sugar
- Scallion or coriander(cilantro), finely chopped
Prepare the mushroom
- Use a knife to trim off the root section of the mushroom. Gently separate it into bite-sized bundles.
- Wash in a large bowl of clean water. Drain then pat dry with kitchen towel/paper.
Fry the sauce
- In a wok/pan, fry minced garlic and minced chili (or homemade pickled chili garlic sauce) in oil over medium heat until fragrant.
- Add light soy sauce, oyster sauce and sugar. Mix well.
Steam the dish
- Place enoki mushroom over a serving plate. Scatter the sauce over.
- Bring water to a full boil in your steaming setup (see note 2). Carefully put in the plate. Cover with a lid and leave to steam for 4 mins.
- Garnish with chopped scallion or coriander(cilantro). Serve immediately.