1/2 cup dried wood ear fungus, optional (NOTE: This ingredient is available at Asian supermarkets and specialty grocery stores)
Olive oil cooking spray
1 1/4 lb lean ground pork or lean ground turkey
1 1/4 cups dried black beans, soaked in water for 24 hours (TIP: If you don't have time to soak beans for 24 hours, boil them for 1 hour, until al dente, then drain and set aside.)
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 small hot Thai red chile, or to taste, chopped
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced (about 2 tbsp)
1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
15 Chinese long beans, trimmed and cut into thirds (TIP: You can use 4 cups chopped green beans instead of long beans. Add them in about 5 minutes before the end of cooing time.)
1 cup stemmed and sliced shitake mushrooms
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 cups baby bok choy, trimmed, rinsed and drained
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
5 green onions, white and light green parts, chopped
If using wood ear, bring a kettle of water to a boil. In a small, heat-proof bowl, add wood ear and cover with boiling water. Soak for 10 minutes until soft; drain and set aside.
Mist a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot or Dutch oven with cooking spray and heat on medium. Add pork, stirring and breaking up with a wooden spoon, for 8 to 10 minutes, until browned.
Add wood ear, black beans, garlic, chile, ginger and five-spice powder and cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes. Add long beans, mushrooms, sesame oil and broth. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to medium-low; simmer for about 1 hour. Just before serving, stir in bok choy; simmer about 1 minute, until just wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with green onions.