Wash the scallop and mushrooms and soak separately in hot water for 30 mins
Soak the Fatt Choy in tap water until it expands ( abt 5-10 mins). Wash the Fatt Choy a few times and squeeze dry. Put aside for later use.
When the mushrooms are soft, remove the stalk. Squeeze the mushroom dry individually and set aside.
Wash the ginger and remove the skin. Grate it and squeeze out the juice.
Add the ginger juice to the mushrooms and rub it in with your hands and let stand for 30 mins. Wash the parsley and cut into 3 cm lengthwise.
Place the diced pork fats in the wok and fry over medium heat until the fats become golden brown and crispy. Turn off the heat.
Place the pork lard on a metal sieve and drain. Once cool, place the lard in an air tight container for later use.
Pour out the oil and leaving 3 TBsp in the wok
Put the mushroom in the wok and stir fry it till it is well coated with the oil over medium heat for a minute or 2.
Add in the 1.4 litres of water, scallops including the water from the soaked scallops and mushrooms (sieved first),1 1/2 TBsp oyster sauce, 1/2 tsp black soya sauce, 1 tsp light soya sauce, rock sugar and 1 TBsp of the crispy lard. Stir to mix well.
Transfer the mushroom mixture into a pot and let it cook over high heat. Once the water is boiling, turn the heat to medium low and let it simmer for 1 hour.
Turn the heat to low and continue to simmer for another 1 - 1.5 hours. If the water is not sufficient, more can be added, making sure that the water covers just above the mushroom. Stir constantly to prevent the mushroom from getting burnt.
(Optional) Add the Fatt Choy to the mushroom during the last 10 minutes of the cooking time.
Add salt to taste if necessary.
Mix 1 TBsp of water to the corn flour and mix well. Slowly pour in the cornflour to the mushroom stirring it until the gravy thickens.
Dish up the mushrooms on a platter. Top with the crispy lard and parsley and serve hot.
Choose shiitake mushrooms with shorter stems as you'll need to remove the stalk from the shiitake mushroom. Read my short explanation on how to choose shiitake mushroom and how to identify the different grades of shiitake mushrooms for more tips!
Only buy Fatt Choy if you know the seller well. Nowadays, many people, including restaurants, do not use Fatt Choy anymore because it is fake most of the time. The supply of genuine Fatt Choy is quite scarce now because of over harvesting. Don't pay a high price for fake stuff.
Don't overcook the mushroom or it will be tasteless Likewise, use just enough water to cover 1 inch above the mushroom, or it will become tasteless.
Braise the mushrooms for a long period. The longer you braise, the better the taste.
Do not add in the corn flour until it is about to be served. Once the corn flour is added, the mushrooms will get stuck to the bottom of the pot and will get burnt very easily. Once burnt, the mushrooms will taste awful.
Be sure not to cook the Fatt Choy for too long otherwise it will disintegrate and turn mushy.
Add Lard oil, lard and ginger juice to enhance the fragrance and texture of the shiitake mushroom. The lard gives the braised mushroom a very smooth and slippery texture.
Add rock sugar to make the mushroom smooth and glossy. Do not add too much otherwise it will taste like sweet dessert.
Add crispy lard only just before serving so that it will remain crispy.
ALTERNATIVES AND STORING
If you are health conscious, use sunflower oil instead. Omit the lard oil and the lard.
Chinese Braised Shiitake Mushroom tastes better if it is cooked a day before. It can also be kept in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
Any leftover braised mushroom can converted into another dish. For example, you can cut broccoli into bite size pieces, and blanch the broccoli in a pot of water with some oil and salt for about 7 minutes. Next, drain the broccoli and arrange it around the edges of a serving dish. Place the braised mushrooms in the centre of the dish and serve.
If the parsley turns limp, revive it by putting it into a big bowl of ice water. It will plump up again in no time.
If you would like to add dried oysters, you will need to soak them with hot water for 30 mins. Dried oysters usually have a lot of sandy particles and you need to wash them thoroughly and scrap off any sand which may be stuck on the oysters. Add the oysters to the mushroom during the last 30 mins of the cooking time before the mushrooms are done.