This very simple dish is one of my childhood favourites. I was pleasantly surprise how easy it was to cook it – it’s pretty much a one bowl meal (i.e. chuck it all on a heat-proof bowl and set it off to steam). You may be a little apprehensive with the fungus especially if you’ve never heard or seen it before. It’s also known as jelly fungus, black fungus and cloud ears fungus. The names are obviously linked to its odd shape and colour. Nutritionally, this fungus is a bit of a super hero. It is rich in iron – believed to enrich blood and prevent iron deficiency. It may effectively reduce blood pressure, and thought to lower LDL cholesterol levels; it is also said to nourish the lungs, liver and stomach, alleviate dryness and promote circulation in the body.
You can read more about it here. Wood ear fungus is mainly sold in dried form so before using, you will need to soak it in water for about 15 – 20 minutes. It will expand two to three times its packaged size. Rinse the fungus and trim the hardy bits off, which are the stems. It’s a pretty versatile ingredient – which can be used in stews, soups, steamed dishes like this one, and stir-fries.
It’s a little crunchy in texture but it depends on how long it has been cooked. The longer it is on the stove, the softer it becomes. This dish also includes other super sexy foods like goji berries, dried Chinese mushrooms, sesame oil, ginger and a nice splash of ginger wine – all great for this frosty winter. Some day, remind me to explain the basics of Chinese nutrition. It’s a rather lengthy story.