Look for dried wood ear (sometimes called cloud ear, tree ear, or silver ear) mushrooms and jars of black bean sauce in the Asian food aisles of large supermarkets. If you don't have a bamboo steamer, use a round cooling rack to support the pie plate in the wok or skillet.
2 dried wood ear mushrooms
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets, skinned (about 1 inch thick)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
3 tablespoons sake (rice wine)
2 tablespoons black bean sauce
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, thinly sliced
How to Make It
Soak mushrooms in hot water 20 minutes or until soft; drain and cut into thin strips.
Cut 3 (3/4-inch) deep lengthwise slits in each fillet. Combine cornstarch, salt, and pepper; sprinkle over fish. Let stand 10 minutes. Stuff mushroom strips and green onions into slits.
Place fish in a 9-inch pie plate. Combine sake and the remaining ingredients; pour over fish. Place a bamboo steamer basket in a large wok, and add water to wok to a depth of 1 1/2 inches below basket. Bring the water to a boil. Place pie plate in bottom of steamer basket; cover and cook 8 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.
Wine note: In this dish, the sweet earthiness of the mushrooms and black bean sauce as well as the flavor of the salmon form a perfect counterpoint to the earthy flavors and silky texture of a good pinot noir. Try Sebastiani pinot noir 2002 (Russian River Valley, California), $23, with its forestlike aromas of earth, dried leaves, and underbrush, and its seductive flavors of dried cherries, mocha, and vanilla. -Karen MacNeil
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