Thursday, November 25, 2010
Wood ear fungus; golden needles
So this is the wood ear fungus, tree ear fungus, black fungus, that I've been reading about in Chinese recipes forever but never found because it cleverly hides behind the appearance of seaweed. But no. It's the dried, shredded form of a kind of fungus that looks very like a big black ear when fresh.
With it is featured "golden needles," which are nothing more or less than dried day lily buds. Astonishing! Once you know what they are, they're easily recognizable as such. With them, I made a dish from Bryanna Clark Grogan's Authentic Chinese Cuisine called Buddha's delight or Eight Treasure Dish (so called because it is supposed to have four dried ingredients and four fresh: I cheated a bit and mine is more like a Twelve Treasure Dish). Here are some of my treasures:
First you soak all the dried ingredients. Besides the black fungus and golden needles, I used yuba sticks and dried shiitake mushrooms which never actually made it into the soup because I was too impatient to let them soak long enough to soften. Bryanna has her method, but I constructed my soup like a hot pot:
Hot pots are dead easy. You just arrange your ingredients, pour on some stock, and cook until tender. The finished soup, topped with green onions and sesame oil:
Not as brilliant as yesterday's, but still very good! So what are these ingredients like? Well, the wood ear fungus had little taste of its own but a nice chewy texture and a colour that contrasts pleasingly with the other ingredients in the pot. I will use this again. The lily buds? Eh, meh. A little sweetish but no real taste, they're beige. I'll probably use up my packet but I didn't love them.