Wood ear mushrooms are a type of edible fungi. It has a delightfully gelatinous and crunchy texture. It’s a popular ingredient in Asian cuisines and is known for its medicinal properties.
Dried wood ear mushrooms (きくらげ) are a type of black fungus that have the appearance of black trumpet mushrooms. Native to China, the fungus is called cloud ear fungus, wood fungus, black mushrooms, tree ear fungus, jelly ear, and kikurage.
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What Is Dried Wood Ear Mushroom
Wood ear mushrooms (Auricularia auricula-judae) take their name from growing on the sides of decaying trees. The broad, flat shape of the mushroom makes the tree look like it has ears.
They are used in Asian cooking, especially in Chinese cuisine. You have probably tasted wood ear mushrooms in Chinese hot and sour soup, stir-fried dishes, and salads.
What Do They Taste
They are crunchy and gelatinous and have a delicate forest aroma. When cooked, the mushrooms will take on flavors from other ingredients and add texture to the dish.
How To Use
Dried wood ear mushrooms are hard, brittle, and inedible. To use it, reconstitute it in a large bowl with hot water for 15-30 minutes. Note that the mushrooms can expand 3-4 times in size.
When reconstituted, they turn into a large wavy black mushroom. Clean them well, and trim off the stems with kitchen scissors. Slice the mushrooms into matchsticks. The soaking liquid does not add flavor, so discard it. Add the rehydrated mushrooms toward the end of your cooking to retain their chewy texture.
If using raw mushrooms, clean them well and add them directly into your cooking.
The Japanese use the mushrooms in many Chuka Ryori recipes, such as noodle soups and stir-fries.
Where To Buy
You can find wood ear mushrooms at Japanese and Asian markets, either in fresh or dried form.
How To Store
Keep dry mushrooms in a cool place with low humidity and like other dried foods, avoid moisture. Store reconstituted mushrooms in a container or bowl with clean water.
Like many mushrooms, they are low in calories and high in protein, dietary fiber, vitamin D, calcium, potassium, and antioxidants. It can improve iron deficiency, reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol levels, and regulate gut health. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is believed to have immune-enhancing and antimicrobial properties.