Perusing through the dried Chinese ingredients in my local Asian groceries can be a fun time. It is messy and the organization is not always perfect, sometimes what’s being displayed and the price tag can be a mismatch, but I still love doing it all the same.
One of the more uncommon ingredients, at least to non Chinese, is probably going to be dried lily flowers. Unlike dried chrysanthemum or dried rose, at a glance dried lily flowers don’t look like flowers at all.
Dried lily flower are typically sold in a see-through plastic packaging. The flowers look more like 3 inches of golden brown stalks, and probably not the most appetizing thing judging from their appearance. But if you manage to find it in your market (or just buy from Amazon), these flowers have a mild flavor with crunchy and interesting texture, a perfect addition to your stir fry dishes, soup especially hot and sour, and of course I am going to use them in this recipe.
This is a very homely dish, something that my Grandma made for us when we were kids, and definitely not something you find served in fancy restaurants.
You will need to start preparing the dried ingredients the night before you want to cook the dish, I usually wash and soak all my dried ingredients (wood ear, shiitake, and lily flower) in separate bowls just before I am ready to go to bed so they have enough time to fully rehydrate by the next day when I prepare for lunch.
Once they are fully rehydrated, squeeze out the water, then thinly slice the wood ear and shiitake, chop off the stem (if present) of the lily flowers and tie each flower in a knot. If you are short on time, you don’t have to tie them in knots, but I think it is a nice touch and that’s how it’s been done in my family since my Grandma’s time.
The rest of the steps is very easy, but we will still need to marinate for 2 hours, so if you want to make this for lunch, it is best to do this step by 10 a.m. Simply combine all the ingredients (minus cornstarch) in a mixing bowl, cover the bowl with a saran, and marinate for 2 hours in the fridge. Remember to return to room temperature prior to cooking.
To cook, prepare a steamer and let the water boils on medium heat. While we wait for the water to boil, add cornstarch to the mixture, mix well, and transfer the whole thing into a steam proof bowl.
I use a 9″ pie dish and it is perfect. Once the water boils, just put the dish into the steamer and steam for 15 minutes. Remember to let the dish rest another 5 minutes before taking off the lid. Garnish with scallions and the dish is done!
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