I would have titled the post Vegetarian Oyster, except that, following my previous post on vegetarian spider, I won’t want any confusion that scientists have discovered a new breed of oyster.
A few years back when I attended a Tzu Chi study group, the host sister often makes a vegetarian noodle dish. The Taiwanese noodle is dark brown in color and very thin, like vermicilli. The study group ended, and recently I started having cravings for that noodle. When I spotted the noodle at the supermarket I brought a pack. The first time around wasn’t quite successful, so I went online in search of a proper recipe, and came across one for making vegan oyster.
I know Chinese eats most anything and has a vegan mock version of most anything, but it was the first time I heard of vegan oyster. Naturally I couldn’t resist making it.
The recipe is actually very simple. You soak the shiitake mushrooms, chop them up, tear a nori seaweed sheet into tiny pieces, and mix the two together with some flour, then fry it.
I used shiitake, though white button or baby bella should work too. Shiitake has a firmer texture and more umami. I was amazed at the result. It tastes good, and it tastes quite like the real thing: the seaweed giving it the brine-like flavor reminiscent of sea, and the mushroom a meaty, juicy texture.
As for the noodle, my mistake first time was cooking it like most noodles: it’s done when it’s soft. Not for this noodle. I let it stew for a few more minutes, together with shredded mushroom, wood ear and carrot. Feel free to add bamboo shoots and bean sprouts if you have them.
(dried wood ear)
(after soaking in water)
When ready, add soy sauce and sugar to the broth, generous amount of rice vinegar (black preferred). Thicken broth with corn starch (add corn starch to a small bowl, add a little cold water, stir till dissolved, then add to the hot broth. Do not add corn starch powder directly to broth.)
(I didn’t take picture the first time I made this, so in the picture, I use plain white noodle instead of the dark Taiwanese vermicelli)
Sprinkle on cilantro and white pepper. Enjoy!!