Baby Cabbages and Straw Mushrooms in Oyster Sauce

Baby cabbages with mushrooms

If it weren’t for the freaky weather that resulted in a heavy downpour last Sunday morning, I wouldn’t have ended up with this delicious, nutritious dish.

There I was, wet and cold, seeking much-needed shelter from the rain in the middle of the neighborhood wet market. I was clutching bags of ripe mangoes, bananas, greens, tomatoes and onions. I was standing sandwiched between a fresh pork meat stall and a cart filled with pirated DVDs. Everything seemed to have stopped because of the heavy rain pelting the whole street, except for a few who were mindful enough to bring umbrellas.

As I waited for the rain to stop, there was nothing else to do but to, er, ‘merchandise watch’ (I would have preferred people watching but it wasn’t the right time for that). Just right across from where I was standing was a stall filled with fresh produce — strawberries, mangoes, mushrooms, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, herbs, green leafy vegetables, and some other stuff that I didn’t recognize. It was that same spot that I espied a rare find — baby cabbages! Right then and there, I knew what I’d be having for lunch that day.

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When the rains subsided, I quickly made my purchase and happily went home raring to make this super-easy dish and filling dish. Here are the things that you’ll need:

INGREDIENTS

Baby cabbages (either whole or sliced in half)

Straw mushrooms, halved or quartered

1 red onion, sliced

3 small tomatoes (or more if you like)

2 cloves garlic, minced

A dash of fish sauce to taste

1-2 Tablespoons oyster sauce

Black or white pepper

1/4 cup water

Olive oil or vegetable oil

Carrot slices (optional)

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PROCEDURE

1. Heat oil in a pan.

2. Saute onion until transparent. Add minced garlic and tomatoes. If you like it hot, add sliced chilies. Add the carrot slices (optional ingredient).

3. Add in the whole baby cabbages and mix well. This is the time to add a dash of fish sauce. If you’re not too keen on fish sauce, use salt instead. Cover and simmer for 2-3 minutes.

4. Add the straw mushrooms. Halving or quartering the mushrooms helps absorb the flavors better. Mix. Pour in the oyster sauce. You can add a few more tablespoons if you like. Cover for a minute or two.

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5. The mushrooms’ water content mixed with the oyster sauce should be enough to give the dish a slightly thick sauce. But if it’s too dry for you, you can add a bit of water. Remember to not overcook the baby cabbages. You want them to retain some crunchiness too.

This vegetarian-friendly dish is great as rice topping. One spoonful will give you the sweet-salty flavors of the oyster sauce blending well with the tempered acidity of the tomatoes. Those looking for some meaty ingredients may add chicken, pork or beef to this dish. Or seafood for that matter. You may even add tofu in there. This is a versatile dish that can accommodate a variety of ingredients. For added flavors, you can sprinkle crispy fried onions and raw minced garlic. Bon appetit!

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