My friend Pan Suefen refers to this kind of preparation as a “dry” stir-fry, because there’s no sauce. The focus here is on earthy mushrooms and brightly flavored bok choy, exploited to their fullest to produce a final result that is greater than the sum of its parts. I love how the dried mushrooms, reconstituted in water, take on a satisfying, slightly chewy texture and a deep umami flavor in the hot oil. The bok choy undergoes a pleasing transformation as well: the crunchy white stem develops a caramelized flavor as it’s left alone for a minute with its cut surface in direct contact with the wok, and the leaves wilt slightly, acquiring a mild sweetness as they cook.
- 6 large dried mushrooms, such as shiitake
- 1 tbsp. canola oil
- 1⁄2 lb. small Shanghai bok choy, halved lengthwise (about 10 heads)
- 1⁄4 tsp. sugar
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Put mushrooms into a medium bowl of water and soak for 2 hours. Drain; squeeze any excess water from the mushrooms and cut off stems. Cut mushrooms into ¼”-thick slices. Heat a 14″ wok (or stainless-steel skillet) over high heat until wok begins to smoke. Add oil around the edge of the wok and swirl to coat the bottom and sides. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring and tossing constantly, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to a plate; set aside.
- Return wok to high heat until it begins to smoke. Add bok choy cut side down, along with 2 tbsp. water, and cook, without stirring, until the water evaporates, about 1 minute.
- Add sugar and season with salt. Vigorously stir and toss bok choy until it’s bright green and wilted, about 1 more minute.
- Return mushrooms to wok, toss to combine, and cook until the flavors meld, about 30 seconds. Transfer mushrooms and bok choy to a serving platter and serve hot or at room temperature.