Shiitake and Celery Stir-Fry with Ginger and Sesame

Shiitake and Celery Stir-Fry with sesame and ginger, served with rice.

Shiitake and Celery Stir-Fry with sesame and ginger, served with rice.

When I was young, I was not  a fan of celery.  As a child, it was somewhat palatable when topped with peanut butter, but even then I preferred peanut butter on carrots.  Basically, I used to think celery was a great way to ruin things, especially soup or chili. (“What were they thinking?!”)

Today, however, I quite enjoy celery, especially in Chinese dishes. So, finding ourselves in the predicament of having two big bunches of celery in the fridge, we decided to make a dinner of it, a stir-fry of celery and mushrooms.  While any mélange of mushrooms, asian or otherwise, might work, we chose shiitake, for their rich, smoky flavor to compliment the mild celery.  Some fresh baby bellas add a nice texture contrast.

For the sauce, I prepared perhaps 2/3 cup total by mixing the following to taste:

  • soy sauce
  • oyster sauce
  • fish sauce
  • rice vinegar
  • honey
  • water (sparingly)
  • ground black pepper
  • bird peppers to taste (whole, dried)
  • sriracha or similar hot sauce to taste (optional)
  • corn starch (prepared as a slurry for thickening, added on heat at end)

Since the celery will release some water, the sauce need not be diluted much with water.

For the main ingredients:

  • celery, 1 bunch of stalks, leaves intact, coarsely cut, diagonally
  • shiitake, stems removed, caps cut in strips (from whole dried, reconstituted in warm water for a couple hours)
  • baby bella mushooms, fresh, cut into qarters or sixths
  • fresh ginger, finely chopped (a generous amount, e.g., 2 thumbs)
  • onion, cut in short strips, 2 small
  • sesame seeds
Shiitake and Celery Stir-Fry with sesame and ginger.

Shiitake and Celery Stir-Fry with sesame and ginger.

While preparing rice in a rice cooker, we stir-fried the ingredients in a large cast iron skillet with a few tablespoons of canola oil, beginning with the onion, ginger and shiitake, and a fraction of the sauce; I also put all the bird peppers in the pan at this time to soften them while cooking.  Once those are somewhat tender, add the celery and more sauce progressively, stirring and cooking for desired tenderness of the celery.  I like it cooked, but somewhat firm.  Lastly, add the fresh mushrooms (so as they are only lightly cooked) and thicken the sauce with corn starch slurry if you like a sauce that clings to the ingredients.

When finished, add some dashes of sesame oil, and then sprinkle with sesame seeds; alternatively, you might do this on the serving plate instead.

Shiitake and Celery Stir-Fry with sesame and ginger.

Shiitake and Celery Stir-Fry with sesame and ginger.

We plated the stir-fry with white sticky rice.  This time I used Nishiki rice and found it nearly identical, prepared in a rice cooker, to the Calrose rice I usually use; both are grown in California, but Nishiki suggests it’s a Japanese sushi rice.

Shiitake and Celery Stir-Fry with sesame and ginger, served with rice.

Shiitake and Celery Stir-Fry with sesame and ginger, served with rice.

This turned out to be a delicious dish, with the shiitake and ginger being a nice complement to simple, some might say, otherwise “shitty” celery.

For taking this celery from shit to shiitake, I’ll dedicate this post to FoodIsTheBestShitEver. Check ’em out if you haven’t already. :)

Here are some related recipes that might be useful, although I’ve not tried them:

Advertisements

Poached Tilapia with Creamy Shiitake Ragoût

Poached Tilapia with Creamy Shiitake Ragoût

I poached the tilapia fillets in the cream sauce with the vegetables, i.e., a sauce of vegetable stock, heavy cream, cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, dijon mustard, fennel seed, thyme, salt and pepper. I used dried mushrooms, but the texure of fresh mushrooms would likely be better with this delicate fish.

I prepared couscous in vegetable stock and served it layered in the middle.

This was inspired by a related recipe for Pan-Seared Cod with Creamy Fennel Ragoût.

Shiitake and Bok Choy Soup, Broiled Tilapia, and Sesame Sautéed Baby Bok Choy

Shiitake and Bok Choy Soup, Broiled Tilapia, and Sesame Sautéed Baby Bok Choy

I found some dried shiitake mushrooms in the cupboard that my mom gave me some ten years ago (they were grown in Arkansas, of all places), so I decided to finally reconstituted them for this soup. To the best of my recollection, this is the first soup I’ve made from scratch. :-)

Here are the recipes I used for this healthy meal:

“Chicken, Shiitake and Bok Choy Soup”
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Chicken-Shiitake-and-Bok-Choy-Soup-103106
(The water used to reconstitute the mushrooms was used, in part, to make chicken bouillon.)

“Asian-Style Grilled Tilapia”
http://www.food.com/recipe/asian-style-grilled-tilapia-192282
(I substituted chili garlic sauce for red pepper flakes, added minced cilantro to the marinade, and served this atop sticky rice. While broiling, I reduced the marinade and served it over the tilapia.)

The sesame bok choy was prepared similarly to my earlier sesame swiss chard, but spiced up with a spoonful of chili garlic sauce.