Oyster Mushrooms Stirfry with Quinoa and Chestnuts

This combination of flavors adds a subtle perfume which lingers on the palate, with a complex sweetness imparted from the roasted chestnuts and miso. If you can't find quinoa, you can substitute amaranth, millet or couscous. If it seems too salty to your taste, use less miso and soy, or substitute chicken broth. The recipe serves 2 large servings, or 3-4 smaller plates.

Begin with about twelve raw chestnuts, and cut a slash into the shells with a knife on each side to prevent bursting in the oven. Place on a sheet of aluminum foil in a broiler or toaster oven for about 8 minutes, or until shells start to darken and the knife cuts peel back. (If you keep then in too long, you might end up with some messy explosions all over the oven wall, so keep alert!) When the chestnuts have cooled enough to handle, break them open and scoop any attatched meat from the shells with a spoon. Break up any large chunks of meat into smaller chunks. Save the nut meats in a bowl for the final assembly.

Slice the vegetables and clean the mushrooms in advance. Mix together the rice wine, soy and sugar, and set aside. Put the serving plates in a warm place.

Cook the quinoa as you would cook rice. Place one cup of dry quinoa in a medium saucepan, on medium heat, with 2 cups water. As it starts to heat, mix 2 Tablespoons of miso paste into the warm water, mashing the lumps away to help it blend more quickly. When the water starts to boil, lower the heat and cover. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until the quinoa absorbs the water.

As the quinoa is cooking, heat a wok or frying pan with a bit of oil on a high flame, then toss in the sliced onion. As soon as the onion is seared and partially cooked, remove it from the wok and set aside. Add another bit of oil, and the chopped garlic and asparagus. When the garlic starts to brown slightly, add the mushrooms and stir for a few minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. Next add the brocoli and the wine and soy mixture. Stir for a few minutes more to reduce the liquid. Finally toss in the onions, heating them up again briefly and allowing them to absorb some of the liquid, but not so much that they get soggy.

Presentation: spread out the quinoa onto the warmed plates, then sprinkle each plate with the roasted chestnut meats. Remove the chunks of brocoli from the stirfry, and place them around the edges of the plates, then scoop the mushrooms with the remaining vegetables and broth into the middle.