Chinese Sticky Mushroom Rice with Seitan Sausage Crumbles
Chewy, mushroom-infused sticky rice with morsels of crunchy jicama, chewy shiitake mushrooms and sweet Chinese-style seitan sausages might just be your new favorite comfort food, if it wasn’t already your original comfort food (only vegan this time) if you grew up with it.
This recipe is a variation of an old Gourmet magazine recipe, but not only vegan but with the twist of jicama used in place of more traditional water chestnuts: I love the assertive crunch of this mild turnip against the soft sticky rice. Cooking with the liquid used to soak the shiitake mushroom adds a deep russet hue and tons of rich umami flavor to the rice. The only caveat is that some mushrooms may contain a little bit of grit; the easiest way to remove this is to let the mushroom liquid sit undisturbed (while you prepare the rest of the dish) and skim off the liquid. Or try straining it through a fine muslin cloth, either way the intense shiitake mushroom flavor makes this a rainy day cold weather favorite.
I recommend making this in a deep, well seasoned cast iron pot for the best chance of forming a tasty chew browned crust on the bottom, sort of like a dense dolsot bibimbop crust. If desired let a layer of the rice continue to cook while you enjoy your first serving, then chew away at the crusty rice when you inevitably dip into the pot for seconds.
Serve this rice with lightly sauteed Asian greens or broccoli; sticky rice reheats perfectly in microwave ovens, making this your best lunch buddy on busy weekdays at the office.
2 cups short grain sticky sweet rice (Chinese or Japanese varieties)
10 medium-sized dried shiitake mushrooms, about 1 heaping cup or 1 1/2 ounces
4 teaspoons peanut oil
4 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 bunch scallions, white and green parts separated
1 cup finely diced jicama or drained, rinsed, diced water chestnuts
1/3 cup Chinese rice cooking wine
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegetarian oyster sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 1/2 cups mushroom soaking liquid, water or mild vegetable broth
Sausage and topping:
1/2 recipe Chinese Seitan Sausage crumbles
2 tablespoons peanut oil
Green tops of scallion bunch, thinly sliced
Handful chopped cilantro
1. Pour rice into a bowl, cover with at least 2 inches of warm water and soak for 2 hours or overnight. In another bowl cover the dried mushrooms with 2 cups of hot water and soak for at least 30 minutes. Gently stir the mushroom a few times while soaking to help release any debris from the caps. When the rice is ready, drain in metal mesh strainer and rinse well with cold water. Remove the mushrooms, gently squeeze out any excess liquid and cut away any stems. Dice mushrooms into 1/2 inch pieces. Finely chop white parts of scallions, thinly slice the green tops of the scallions and set aside. In a measuring cup whisk together the rice wine, soy sauce, vegetarian oyster sauce, toasted sesame oil, and ground white pepper.
2. Have ready a deep 4 quart heavy pot with a lid, preferably seasoned cast iron. Heat a wok over high heat, add the peanut oil and fry together the ginger and the white parts of the scallions for 30 seconds. Add the diced mushrooms and stir-fry for 1 minute, then add the diced jicama and fry for 30 seconds. Transfer this mixture to the cast iron pot, add the drained rice and pour on the rice wine sauce. Use a rubber spatula or rice paddle to completely coat the rice with the mixture. Place the pot on the stove, pour in the mushroom soaking liquid and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir the rice two times, reduce the heat to low and cover tightly. Simmer for 30-35 minute or until the liquid is absorbed and rice is sticky, moist and tender.
3. While the rice is cooking, heat the wok over high heat until it’s almost smoking. Add the peanut oil and the Chinese Seitan Sausage crumbles. Stir-fry for 3-4 minutes until edges of crumbles are browned, then turn off heat. When rice is done, remove the lid, and sprinkle everything except a 1/2 cup of the crumbles on top of the rice. Use the rice paddle to dig into the bottom and stir from the bottom up to distribute the seitan sausage throughout the rice. Partially cover and let stand 10 minutes before serving.
4. Scoop rice into a platter or individual serving bowls. Top with remaining sausage and sprinkle with green sliced scallions and cilantro. If desired keep a small amount of rice in the pot and cook over very low heat to create a chewy browned crust that’s excellent for snacking later on.
Peanut shallot sticky rice:
A simple and crunchy alternative that’s gluten free. Omit the sausage. Prepare as directed, adding 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots to the white parts of the scallions and frying until golden, about 6-8 minutes. Continue to cook as directed. Serve rice topped with scallions, cilantro and distribute 1 cup chopped, roasted, unsalted peanuts to top each servings. A favorite of mine served with stir-fried broccoli or yu choy.