Cloud Ear (Auricularia auricula); Wood Ear (A. polytricha)
Two species of Auricularia, a group of jelly fungi, are often used in Asian cuisine. Both are sold dried in Asian markets and are reasonably priced compared to many wild or cultivated mushrooms. For culinary purposes, they are identical.
Auricularia polytricha is variously called “wood ear,” “tree ear,” “black fungus,” or “muk nge”. The dried ear-shaped cap is medium sized, dull in texture, and dark brown to black. The wavy lower surface has a contrasting powdery gray color. The stem is absent or rudimentary. It has no gills. It is a native of Asia and some Pacific Ocean islands in humid climates. Most major Asian countries successfully cultivate A. polytricha today.
These fungi are used for their crisp, snappy texture and their color rather than their taste. The Chinese regularly add A. polytricha to dishes because they think it improves breathing, circulation, and well-being. And they may be correct. Recent studies of the medicinal effects of Auricularia polytricha have identified a chemical that tends to inhibit blood clotting. Since blood vessel diseases, strokes, and heart attacks are associated with clotting, perhaps moderate ingestion of this mushroom as food may indeed confer long life and good health on its users.
Auricularia auricula, “cloud ear,” “Judas’ ear,” or yung nge, is a smaller fungus, with a brown to black cap surface, and is dull brown underneath. A. auricula is not restricted to Asian countries. It is found growing on dead wood worldwide. Plan to pay more for it than for A. polytricha.
Both fungi are imported dried from Asia packed in plastic bags. Store the mushrooms in well-covered heavy plastic or glass containers. You get your money’s worth when you buy this fungus, especially A. polytricha. A wood ear will rehydrate in hot water in 15 to 20 minutes, and swell two to five times its original size. It will look like an enormous, swollen, shiny black ea
- Imported from China, these delicious gourmet mushrooms are the secret behind many-a-exotic stir fries, soups and stocks! Their mince makes Dimdums wonderful!
- These fungi are used for their crisp, snappy texture and their color rather than their taste. The Chinese regularly add these to dishes because they think it improves breathing, circulation, and well-being.
- After reconstitution in warm water, clean under running water with light finger pressure to remove debris. Cut off any fibrous material adhering to the base of the mushroom.
- Store the mushrooms in well-covered heavy plastic or glass containers.
- Urban Platter – Simply Good Food! 🙂