Our version of a favorite from our 9 months in Taipei from 1991-1992. We had trouble finding the right kind of hot bean paste for a couple years, but the one pictured is perfect.
8 to 10 dried Chinese black mushrooms
1 stalk celery, sliced very thin
8 oz mushrooms, white or baby bella, sliced thin or diced
1/2 can sliced water chestnuts
2 heaping tablespoons of hot bean paste (see picture)
1 cake extra firm tofu
1 c stock
1 T soy sauce
1 T sesame oil
1 T water
1 t cornstarch
1 T minced fresh cilantro
cooked rice, brown or white
Boil some water and pour over the dried mushrooms in bowl. Cover and let soak for 15 minutes or more, until soft. Drain. When cool enough to handle, press out the water. Then cut off the stems and discard. Slice the mushrooms thinly and set aside.
Heat 2 T oil of your choice in a wok. Stir fry the celery, water chestnuts, mushrooms and cilantro for 5-10 minutes. Add hot bean paste and stir fry until everything is well coated. Add tofu and fold together gently, then stir fry for 5 minutes.
Add the stock, soy sauce and sesame oil and cook for another 5 minutes. Blend the cornstarch with the water in a small dish, and then add it to the pot. Cook until the mixture thickens.
Garnish with white pepper and fresh coriander and serve over rice.