Black Mushroom Stir-fry

A dozen different brands of dried black mushrooms line the shelves at Asian grocery stores. Yes, they look woody and their aisle has a distinct aroma - it's even hard to tell that they are mushrooms, and shitakes at that - but once you cook with them, you'll see they are meaty, satisfying and great for stir-fries. They even have a number of health benefits, none of which can be verified here.

Drying the mushroom intensifies the flavor. They must be soaked for several hours in cold water to reconstitute. If you're short on time, use hot water and soak for at least 30 minutes. Don't throw away the mushroom water - it can be used to heighten the flavor of the dish you're making.

Mom's Fuzzy Melon and Dried Mushroom Stir-fry

2 fuzzy melons, scrubbed or peeled to remove fuzz 1 package fried tofu 4-6 dried mushrooms 2 tablespoons cornstarch Oyster sauce Soy sauce Pinch of sugar

1. Soak the mushrooms until soft throughout. Rinse. 2. Slice squash and mushrooms into same size pieces. 3. Add cooking oil to pan. Once hot, add mushrooms and a little oyster sauce. 4. Add about 1/3 cup of water and cook for about 5 minutes. Salt. 5. After water evaporates add squash. 6. Salt and cook until squash looks just cooked, stirring occasionally. Be careful not to overcook. 7. Add tofu until heated throughout. 8. Stir in two tablespoons cornstarch, soy sauce to taste, and a pinch of sugar. Add more water if the sauce is too thick. Add soy sauce or salt to taste.

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