Delicious and (usually) inexpensive, mushrooms are great at absorbing the flavours of whatever ingredients they are cooked with. They can range from meaty to slippery and chewy, and to tender and delicate, and if you use a mixture, you can have all the textures in one dish.
Three-cup chicken is a rich and aromatic Taiwanese dish made with soy sauce, rice wine and sesame oil. Three-cup mushrooms has similar flavours but is easier to prepare. In the chicken version, the meat is fried (or stir-fried) before it is cooked with the other ingredients, but for the mushroom dish, you just put the ingredients in a clay pot and simmer everything together. Use several types of fresh mushrooms; I like king oyster, straw and enoki.
Briefly rinse the mushrooms. With large, meaty mushrooms (such as king oyster), cut them into three-bite pieces (they shrink when cooked). Softer mushrooms (such as straw) should be cut in half. If using enoki mushrooms, trim off and discard about 1.5cm (½in) of the woody stem ends, then pull the mushrooms into smaller clumps. Keep the mushrooms separate by type.
Peel the chunk of ginger, then put it on a cutting board and hit it with the side of a cleaver (or a chef's knife) to crush it lightly. Peel the garlic cloves and shallots, but leave them whole. Rinse the dried chillies. Cut the banana chillies on the diagonal into pieces about 3mm (⅛in) thick.
Put the soy sauce, kecap manis, rice wine, sesame oil, sugar and salt in a clay pot (or steel pot) that holds about two litres (two quarts). Place the pot over a medium flame and bring to the boil, then add the ginger, garlic, shallots and dried chillies. Boil the ingredients for about five minutes, or until the sugar dissolves.
Add the mushrooms to the boiling liquid; the meatier types (such as king oyster) should go in first. When the firmer mushrooms start to soften, mix in the softer varieties (but not the enoki, which should be added at the end). Boil the ingredients uncovered and stir often – the mushrooms will soften and give off their own liquid, before absorbing the sauce. Cook the mushrooms for about 10 minutes in total, or until the sauce thickens slightly. Stir in the enoki mushrooms and banana chillies. Taste the sauce and correct, if necessary, then simmer for a few more minutes, stirring often, until the enoki mushrooms are cooked.
Stir in the basil leaves and simmer until wilted, then remove from the flame. Serve the three-cup mushrooms with plenty of steamed rice.