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Authentic Vietnamese recipes from the Motherland

Holy Shitake!

I have this problem of getting comfortable with a grocery store where I would shop there religiously despite...well, everything. I work nearby Chinatown so occasionally I frequent the area to get my Asian groceries. Chinatown is filled with abundance of grocery stores and they are all literally lined up next to each other. However, I have this bad habit of not wanting to change. The first grocery store that I stepped foot in 10 years ago, out of whim, is now the only grocery store that I frequent. I would shop there despite their horrible customer service or lack thereof. I would shop there and settle for their wilting produce at full retail price. I would shop there with the mass pile of inventory in the aisle that questions my safety.

I visited Chinatown with a colleague yesterday. That fact that she came with me opened my eyes that other grocery stores exist. She recommended a place that might have what I was looking for. My reaction was, “Wait. What? What do you mean another grocery store?” Lo and behold my eyes opened to the wonders of the vast array of grocery store right there in front of me. There were grocery stores that weren’t going to kill me with their questionable stacking of inventory in the middle of the aisle. There were grocery stores that actually carry fresh produce that gets delivered every day and not every Thursday.  There were grocery stores that offer reasonable prices and weekly discounts that get rotated based on seasons and not sit advertised for a century.

I picked up some delicious-looking shitake mushrooms that seemed to came straight out of a gourmet magazine. There were no bruises and no missing pieces.  They were prepped and cleaned. Most importantly, they were reasonably priced. I loaded up on the shitakes and fully stuffed my tiny backpack with this mouth-watering fungus.

I cooked up the shitakes as soon as I got home and holy shitake, was it delicious. I made it as a side dish to steamed white rice and Vietnamese roasted chicken. Here’s the recipe that I used:

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Ingredients

  • 1 lb shitake mushrooms
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon of this chicken marinade
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon MSG (optional)
  • Cilantro for garnish (optional)
  1. Clean the shitakes by wetting a kitchen towel or paper towel and wiping them down. You don’t want to run it under water as they will absorb the water and ruin the mushroomy flavor and make them spongy.

  2. Take off the steams and cut them into small pieces. (Don’t discard the stems. They are good!)

  3. Slice up the shitake caps into thin pieces

  4. In a wok or pan, heat up the vegetable oil.

  5. Add in the garlic and ginger
  6. Stir the garlic and ginger around until fragrant, not brown
  7. Add in the shitakes and stems
  8. Add in the chicken marinade
  9. Add in  the salt, pepper and MSG
  10. Sautee the mushrooms until it has wilted down to barely nothing and you start to wonder where half of the mushrooms went.
  11. Add a stem of cilantro for garnish on the top, or you can minced it up and add it into the mushrooms.