Mushrooms, technically speaking, are not vegetables at all; rather, they are among the fungi, a separate order of living things that are neither plant nor animal. So even though the role of mushrooms in the kitchen is basically that of a vegetable, they are unique. Mushrooms are a good source of protein—especially for people who follow a vegan diet. And mushrooms contain glutamates, a group of protein-based chemicals that enhance the flavors of other foods with which they are served. More than many grown in controlled conditions on chunks of pressed wood chips, capture the characteristics of wild forest mushrooms. Cooked as they are here with broccoli florets, the mushrooms take on a meaty quality. Vegetarians who prefer not to use oyster sauce can use dark Chinese soy sauce instead.
- 8 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms
- 1 head broccoli
- ½ cup vegetable broth or chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons Chinese oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1. Discard the mushroom stems and cut the caps into ½-inch slices. Rinse the broccoli, then break off the tops and cut them into individual 1-inch florets.
2. In a small bowl, stir the broth with the oyster sauce and cornstarch, and keep the bowl near the stove.
3. Preheat a wok or large sauté pan over medium-high heat, pour in the canola oil, and swirl to coat the sides of the pan.
4. Add the sliced garlic to the hot oil and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms and broccoli florets, and toss quickly to coat them in the hot, fragrant oil. Continue stirring until the vegetables are heated through, about 2 minutes.
5. Stir the broth mixture in the bowl to bring up the cornstarch, which will have settled to the bottom, and pour the mixture over the hot mushrooms. Stir-fry until the sauce is reduced to a shiny glaze that adheres to the vegetables, about 1 minute. Transfer immediately to a communal platter, or distribute them among individual serving plates and serve hot.