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Crisp Noodles with Vegetables

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10 dried Chinese black mushrooms
2 cups hot water + 1 cup water at room temperature
3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil + more for coating cake pan
¾ pound vermicelli
4½ tablespoons sake or rice wine, divided
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with ¼ cup water
2 tablespoons safflower, divided
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
4 leeks, trimmed ends, halved, washed, and julienned
3 large carrots, peeled, trimmed, and grated
4 cups fresh bean sprouts

1. Put mushrooms in a bowl; cover with 2 cups hot water and soak until soft (about 20 minutes). Remove mushrooms from the bowl then strain the liquid through a fine sieve; reserve for later. Remove and discard mushroom stems. Slice caps into thin strips; set aside.

2. Lightly coat an 8” round cake pan with sesame oil; set aside. Add noodles to boiling water and cook until just tender (about 7 minutes); drain. Add 1½ teaspoons sesame oil; toss to combine. Put noodles in prepared cake pan; let stand until cool.

3. In a medium bowl, combine room temperature water, reserved mushroom liquid, 1½ tablespoons sake/ rice wine, oyster sauce, soy sauce, remaining 1½ teaspoons sesame oil, and pepper; whisk to combine. Add 2 tablespoons cornstarch mixture; stir to combine then set aside.

4. Heat a wok or large skillet; add 1 tablespoon safflower oil and heat until hot (about 20 seconds). Add cooked noodles, keeping their shape, cook while swirling pan (off heat) until browned (about 2 to 3 minutes). Flip noodles and repeat action on other side; put on platter and keep warm.

5. Add remaining 1 tablespoon safflower oil and heat about 20 seconds. Add mushrooms, garlic, and ginger; stir-fry until fragrant, (about 20 seconds). Add leeks and carrots; stir-fry for 1 minute.

6. Add remaining 1½ tablespoons sake/rice wine; cook 1 minute more. Add mushroom liquid mixture and bring to a boil. Stir in half of the remaining cornstarch mixture; cook, stirring, until thickened. If needed, add more cornstarch mixture. Stir in sprouts. Spoon vegetables over noodles; serve NOW

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