Stir-Fried Mushrooms and Downtime

I have to say I’m enjoying my downtime from Arabella and her dramas.  We had the final week of her schooling that was intensity plus and now there’s this wonderful breather before the exams begin.  It’s a wonderful breather because she’s gone and is away on study camp so I feel like I’m having to do a whole lot less yet achieving so much more.

Stir-Fried Mushrooms with Soy Sauce and Ginger

Oh sure, I still get at least seven texts and phone calls per day, ‘Can you chase up the bikini I ordered on line and find out why it hasn’t been delivered?’ and, ‘I’m feeling really tired, can you make an appointment with that doctor so I can get my blood test results?’ and, ‘I’m getting eight hours sleep a night; would you know why I’m so tired?’ and, ‘Can you email the deputy principal and ask her what I do about getting a reference?’ and, ‘Can you book my RSA course because I really need to do it if I’m going to work behind a bar’, and, ‘Have you heard if I’m getting any concessions in my exams for having had glange?’  But the best has been, ‘I’m really homesick; do you think I could come home early?’

No, no; I don’t think so.

But despite the constant ping, ping, ping of new messages coming in to my mobile phone, I’m actually enjoying my mini-break.  I have a friend however, who hasn’t been so lucky.

Swiss brown, oyster, enoki, shiitake and cloud ear mushrooms

Her daughter refused to go on study camp and said she would prefer to study at home.  But while she’s been at home she’s been so demanding and stressed and anxious and uptight that it’s difficult for anyone to be in the house with her at the same time.  And she wants to be taken to various appointments and excursions like going to the dentist and collecting books from the library and having a spray tan and getting an ultrasound on an ankle and seeing a specialist and buying some shoes and seeing some friends and being picked up from a gathering.  And my friend is so worn out she couldn’t cook dinner tonight; all she could do was pick up the phone and dial up the Indian takeaway.

So she phoned me, all worn out, and asked how it was that Arabella was happy to go on study camp.  And that’s when I realised that as demanding as Arabella has been, she’s been a blessing to want to go on these camps.  My friend is full of regret for not insisting she attend because a few days break before the exams begin is therapeutic for everyone.

Stir-Fried beef with Sichuan salt and pepper and lemon

So I’m here just counting my blessings.

And I’m not so tired I have to dial up the Indian takeaway; I’m still able to cook so tonight we had Chinese that I know Arabella would have loved – it’s just a shame she missed it!

Eye fillet with lemon cheeks and Sichuan salt and pepper

Stir-Fried Mushrooms with Soy Sauce and Ginger

Serves:  4-6 as part of a banquet

Degree of Difficulty:  2/5

Cost:  I think it depends where you buy the mushrooms.  Asian supermarkets will make this a lot more affordable.

  • 1/4 cup peanut oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 1 tbspn finely diced ginger
  • 1 tspn sea salt
  • 200g fresh Swiss brown (portobello) mushrooms, stems discarded and caps sliced
  • 100g fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps finely sliced
  • 150g fresh oyster mushrooms, cut in half
  • 1/2 cup shao hsing wine or dry sherry
  • 2 tspns white sugar
  • 2 tspns light soy sauce
  • 2 tspns malt vinegar
  • 1/2 tspn sesame oil
  • 100g fresh black cloud ear fungus
  • 100g fresh enoki mushrooms, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves

Heat oil in a hot wok until surface seems to shimmer slightly.  Add garlic, ginger and salt and stir-fry for 10 seconds.  Add Swiss brown, shiitake and oyster mushrooms and stir-fry for 30 seconds.  Add wine or sherry and continue to stir-fry for 20 seconds.  Add sugar, soy sauce, vinegar and sesame oil and stir-fry for 1 minute.  Toss in black cloud ear fungus and enoki mushrooms and stir-fry for a further minute or until mushrooms are just tender.  Lastly, stir through mint and serve immediately.

Stir-Fried Beef with Sichuan Pepper and Salt and Lemon

Serves:  4-6 as part of a banquet

Degree of Difficulty:  2/5

Cost:  Eye fillet isn’t cheap.

  • 600g beef fillet, cut into 1cm slices
  • 2 tbspns vegetable oil
  • 1 tbspns shao hsing wine or dry sherry
  • 1 tbspn white sugar
  • 1 tbapn light soy sauce
  • 1/2 tspn sesame oil
  • 2 tbspns Sichuan pepper an dsalt
  • 2 lemons, cut into wedges


  • 2 tbspns shao hsing wine or dry sherry
  • 2 tbspns kecap manis
  • 2 tbpns white sugar
  • 2 tbspns roughly diced ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 1 tbspn oyster sauce
  • 1 tbspn light soy sauce
  • 2 tspns malt vinegar
  • 1/2 tspn sesame oil

Combine beef with marinade ingredients in a large bowl, cover, and leave to marinate in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight.

Heat oil in a hot wok until surface seems to shimmer slightly.  Add half the marinated beef and stir-fry for 30 seconds.  Remove from wok with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Add remaining beef and stir-fry for 30 seconds before returning reserved beef to the wok with wine or sheery, sugar, soy sauce and sesame oil.  Stir-fry for a further minute or until beef is just tender.

Arrange beef on a platter with a small bowl of Sichuan pepper and salt.  Serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Sichuan Pepper and Salt

  • 3 tbpns sea salt
  • 1 tbspns Sichuan pepper

Dry-roast peppercorns and salt in a heavy-based pan.

When the peppercorns being to ‘pop’ and become aromatic, take of fthe heat.  Allow to cool, then grind to a powder in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.

Store in an airtight container.

These recipes are from Kylie Kwong, Simple Chinese Cooking

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  1. But surely they have food like this at camp? Wait… probably not. Enjoy your breather, dear C! You deserve it. xoxo

  2. A true confession. I couldn’t concentrate on the story because the food looked so good!

  3. This looks delicious! I’m glad you’re enjoying your respite. 🙂

  4. I know you needed this week of rest. Your poor friend. Her takeaway didn’t come close to tasting like your dinner obviously did. It looks fantastic!

  5. these chinese dishes look incredible! so much better than any takeaway I’ve had! I wish we had study camps here, it was far to easy to get distracted!

  6. yummychunklet says:

    Sigh! I’m just tired reading your post. You definitely deserve some downtime with a great dish like this!

  7. That beef looks especially wonderful Charlie – lovely big slices with a rich sauce! Glad you’re enjoying your “time off”. Must be nice to have a bit of a break 🙂

    • hotlyspiced says:

      It was a fabulous meal that my boys loved. The marinade makes the already tender eye fillet, very tender indeed. And the mushrooms are just amazing – so many flavours and just like a complete meal. I forgot to mention that I served this meal with rice!

  8. You know, i think you are one of the funniest people I know and if your comments thingy was not such a bloody pain when it is combined with the slowest internet in the western world, i would comment all the time, but just so’s you know. Love love love.. c

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Thanks so much Cecilia. I’m so sorry you’ve been having so many dramas with my commenting system. It’s the absolute pits and I’ve had it with Disqus. The help desk isn’t quite as bad as the pinterest help desk but it runs a very close second. I’m trying to work out how to delete it off my blog so I can go back to the very wonderful and completely user-friendly WP system. I think you do amazingly well for someone with such a dodgy internet connection.

  9. “No. No, I think not.” Oh my word woman. YOU are hilarious! I love your blog!! 🙂

  10. Victoria at Flavors of the Sun says:

    I think I’ll come and live/eat at your house, Charlie. Looks delicious. And yes, most of us can truly count our blessings in having the kids we do, even when they are demanding!

  11. Judy@Savoring Today says:

    I love mushrooms and this dish looks amazingly good! I get what you mean about the drama … we just survived homecoming and with two (my daughter and our exchange student), it was quite the week. Whew, it really makes me enjoy “normal”. 🙂 Really do want to make this recipe, maybe have it over rice or noodles — YUM!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Oh, I forgot to say that I served this with rice but Asian noodles would be wonderful too. You had your daughter and an exchange student to get through homecoming? You must have been on a stretcher. What an exhausting time. Happy memories now though I’m sure.

  12. Of course Arabella misses home…she has you as a mom!

    You know, I was MISERABLY homesick the first 6 months of college. I had been away from home before that but had very bad experiences with sleep-away camp. I cried every time. Well, I also cried every day for the first couple months of college. I HATED being away from home. I wanted to come home every weekend but my mom only let me come home every other weekend so i could adjust. I was so mad, but it was obviously for the best. Luckily, I did adjust…

  13. The mushrooms look incredible, it’s not that the rest doesn’t, it’s just that I adore mushrooms!
    I feel bad for your friend however these young ladies really need to start learning how to become self reliant! Our parents didn’t chauffeur us around at their age!

  14. I am so glad you are relaxing my friend, you very much deserve it and to eat exquisite food such as this dish 🙂

    Choc Chip Uru

  15. Both these dishes sound wonderful! I’m glad you’re getting some downtime after all the festivities you’ve participated in and provided surrounding Arabella’s birthday and graduation.

  16. cityhippyfarmgirl says:

    Enjoy that down time, as once exam time hits it will probably get a little crazy 😉

  17. lisaiscooking says:

    Lucky you to have the time and energy to make a great meal at home! I hope all goes well with your daughter’s exams.

  18. Sweet Posy Dreams says:

    Oh my, doesn’t that beef look good? I usually stir fry chicken; beef would be a nice change.

  19. Good Luck for her… The photographs showing that they were so delicious… Thank you dear Charlie, love, nia

  20. I’m glad you’re able to take advantage of some well-deserved downtime, Charlie. This dinner is a real feast, everything so appealing! Well done!

  21. Sorry, Charlie for the all the posts. They weren’t showing up as having been accepted. Please delete any or all of them. 🙂

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Sorry you’re having problems with my commenting system. You’re not the only one. I’m trying to work out how to delete it so I can go back to the good ol’ days and just use the very wonderful WP system.

  22. Maybe your phone could mysteriously go ‘flat’ or Arabella could be juuuuust out of range and you aren’t getting get texts any more? Just something too think about Charlie 🙂
    Love love love the mushroom stirfry! I could eat the whole plate myself- yummo!

  23. Claire @ Claire K Creations says:

    My goodness that eye fillet looks oh so tender and tasty. Poor Arabella missing out.

    It’s great to hear you’re getting a bit of a rest finally!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      The marinade makes the eye fillet (that’s already tender) very tender indeed. It’s a great Chinese dish.

  24. I’m intrigued with Sichuan Pepper-Salt. I have never toasted peppercorns and it sounds like such a wonderful step! And the beef looks so to my liking. I don’t actually eat a lot of beef, but when I get near Chinese cooking and the way the beef is marinated, I can’t resist. I would love to try these recipes. And it’s wonderful to hear that Arabella misses home! It’s a good sign. But I agree with you that an “extended stay” is necessary for you to have the benefit of rest! 🙂 We’ll all be glad to hear of her return, though. She’s very entertaining!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Yes, entertaining but demanding. I’m certainly enjoying my break. Long may it last. The Sichuan pepper and salt is just delicious on the beef and gives a really distinct flavour. Do give this a try because it’s very easy and really delicious.

  25. Wow you make Chinese food a lot better than how I make it 🙂 well done Charlie~ And I agree that study camp before exams is probably the best for everyone, because Arabella is then surrounded by people who are going through the same thing as her. Having said that LOL I don’t think I would’ve gone! 😛 xx

  26. Glad you are having a small break. I would never thought of putting mint in the mushroom stir-fry.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      I don’t think I’ve put mint in an Asian stir-fry before but I’m sure I read the recipe correctly and it sure did taste delicious.

  27. hope the exams go well

  28. says:

    Yes…we do have to remember to count our blessings! Thank you for sharing such an inspired treat! I’m hungry…even though I just ate a big bowl of stew! I hope you are having a good start to the week. I’m already ready for Friday 🙂

  29. Christina Armstrong says:

    I’m so happy to hear that you’re enjoying your downtime, Charlie. This mushroom stir fry sounds delicious!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Yes, it’s very relaxing. And the weather is perfect for relaxing too. It’s a great stir-fry so do give it a try.

  30. JasmyneTea says:

    Those stir fried mushrooms look delish, I have a massive craving for them now!

  31. Kiran @ says:

    Love a simple, earthy and delicious mushroom stir fry every now and then 🙂

  32. Juliet Batten says:

    I’m so happy for you, and glad that Arabella can enjoy the break (interspersed with tweaks on the umbilical cord of course!). Do make the most of it!

  33. Oh I love this one – but I bet you are so glad Arabella missed it!

  34. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    Wow Arabella really does need you! So many questions, what would she do without you? 😮

  35. Joanne (eats well with others) says:

    We don’t have study camps like that in the US but I wish we did! They would make studying for exams so much more bearable!

    I love takeout at home…this whole meal sounds delicious!

  36. Looks like you had an extremely delicious feast! And yay for a break from the kids 🙂

  37. MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM,..What a delectable feast for the eyes & mouth too! You really can v-cook well, my friend!

  38. These dishes look great! I especially like the mushroom stir fry. You are a great woman to listen to all the drama, I wish I had your patience 🙂

  39. I love the look of your mushroom dish and especially since you have a few varieties!

  40. Juliet Batten says:

    Love your new post about having fun, and you make the perfect response to Alfie’s question – but alas! I can’t comment on that page, so have jumped back to this one to comment. Don’t know what’s gone wrong, but no comment box comes up.

  41. What have we done wrong with these kids? My eldest was a walking soap opera most of the time – she was such a drama queen she could have landed a role in “The Bold & the Beautiful” in a snap. She is slowly improving and I think moving out of home has helped no end. Now it’s her housemates and friends who have to put up with it all – although I suspect they aren’t much better.

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