This dish highlights the Chinese chef's obsession with texture. I love cooking with and eating the transparent vermicelli-like glass noodles, which are made from ground mung beans. Easy to source and prepare, they provide an amazing textural experience and are excellent vehicles for flavour. The fresh shiitake mushrooms, cabbage and cloud ear fungus not only enhance the textural contrasts within this dish, but also make for a substantial vegetarian option.
100g glass (bean thread) noodles
3 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp malt vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
½ tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp peanut oil
5cm x 2cm knob (20g) ginger, finely sliced
6 fresh shiitake mushrooms, destemmed, left whole
110g five-spiced pressed tofu* (½ packet), finely sliced
3 tbsp shao hsing wine or dry sherry
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 Chinese cabbage leaves, thickly sliced on the diagonal
100g fresh black cloud ear fungus (1 packet), cores removed, roughly torn
2 spring onions, cut into 7cm lengths
1. Soak noodles in hot tap water for 15 minutes. Drain well and, using kitchen scissors, roughly cut into manageable lengths.
2. Combine soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and sesame oil in a small bowl and set aside.
3. Heat peanut oil in a hot wok until the surface seems to shimmer slightly. Add ginger, mushrooms and tofu and cook, stirring occasionally, for two minutes, or until tofu is lightly golden.
4. Add wine or sherry and cook for 30 seconds. Add garlic, cabbage and black cloud ear fungus and stir-fry for one minute.
5. Add soy sauce mixture, noodles and spring onion and stir-fry for two minutes, or until noodles are heated through. Serve immediately.
*Five-spice pressed tofu is perfect for stir-frying because it is firm in texture, unlike the super delicate silken tofu, which is much better suited to steaming.