Luffa Squash Stir-fry with Wood Ear Mushrooms and Carrots

From 6 Bittersweets
Adapted from The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook
Serves 2 to 3

XIAOLU'S NOTES: The wood ear mushrooms should be available at most Asian groceries near the more well-known dried shiitake mushrooms (which you could substitute here if you can't find the wood ear variety). These need to be reconstituted for at least 30 minutes in warm water, rubbed to remove any dirt, torn into smaller pieces if very large, and then drained before use. As for peeling the luffa squash, you can either use a normal peeler or (as shown below) you can divide it into 3 to 4-inch sections and slice off the peel vertically.

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2" ginger, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dried wood ear mushrooms, reconstituted and drained
1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced thinly on the diagonal
2 ounces cellophane noodles, soaked in warm water and drained
1 medium to large luffa squash (1 1/2 to 2 feet long), peeled and sliced
2 teaspoons fish sauce or oyster sauce
2/3 cup water or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large wok or skillet, heat the oil over medium heat until it becomes runny and shimmers. Add the ginger and garlic and fry for up to a minute until fragrant, stirring constantly to avoid burning the garlic.

Add the carrots and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the luffa and mushrooms and mix well. Add the cellophane noodles followed by 2/3 cup water or vegetable stock. Add the fish sauce, salt, and pepper to taste and mix well.

Cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. The dish is done when the cellophane noodles are completely transparent, the carrots are soft, and the liquid has reduced to about 1/4 cup, which will take about 2 to 3 minutes. The dish should be rather soupy but reduce the liquid further or add more water according to your personal preference. Once you're satisfied, serve the stir-fry hot with steamed rice or rice porridge.