Jump to content


Welcome to the eG Forums!

These forums are a service of the Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancement of the culinary arts. Anyone can read the forums, however if you would like to participate in active discussions please join the society.

Photo

Mushrooms and Fungi in China

Chinese

  • Please log in to reply
76 replies to this topic

#1 liuzhou

liuzhou
  • participating member
  • 2,246 posts
  • Location:Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Posted 24 January 2012 - 08:54 PM

An eG member recently asked me by private message about mushrooms in China, so I thought I'd share some information here.

What follows is basically extracted from my blog and describes what is available in the markets and supermarkets in the winter months - i.e now.

FRESH FUNGI

December sees the arrival of what most westerners deem to be the standard mushroom – the button mushroom (小蘑菇 xiǎo mó gū). Unlike in the west where they are available year round, here they only appear when in season, which is now. The season is relatively short, so I get stuck in.

Posted Image

The standard mushroom for the locals is the one known in the west by its Japanese name, shiitake. They are available year round in the dried form, but for much of the year as fresh mushrooms. Known in Chinese as 香菇 (xiāng gū), which literally means “tasty mushroom”, these meaty babies are used in many dishes ranging from stir fries to hot pots.

Posted Image

Second most common are the many varieties of oyster mushroom. The name comes from the majority of the species’ supposed resemblance to oysters, but as we are about to see the resemblance ain’t necessarily so.

Posted Image

The picture above is of the common oyster mushroom, but the local shops aren’t common, so they have a couple of other similar but different varieties.

Pleurotus geesteranus, 秀珍菇 (xiù zhēn gū) (below) are a particularly delicate version of the oyster mushroom family and usually used in soups and hot pots.

Posted Image

凤尾菇 (fèng wěi gū), literally “Phoenix tail mushroom”, is a more robust, meaty variety which is more suitable for stir frying.

Posted Image

Another member of the pleurotus family bears little resemblance to its cousins and even less to an oyster. This is pleurotus eryngii, known variously as king oyster mushroom, king trumpet mushroom or French horn mushroom or, in Chinese 杏鲍菇 (xìng bào gū). It is considerably larger and has little flavour or aroma when raw. When cooked, it develops typical mushroom flavours. This is one for longer cooking in hot pots or stews.

Posted Image

One of my favourites, certainly for appearance are the clusters of shimeji mushrooms. Sometimes known in English as “brown beech mushrooms’ and in Chinese as 真姬菇 zhēn jī gū or 玉皇菇 yù huáng gū, these mushrooms should not be eaten raw as they have an unpleasantly bitter taste. This, however, largely disappears when they are cooked. They are used in stir fries and with seafood. Also, they can be used in soups and stews. When cooked alone, shimeji mushrooms can be sautéed whole, including the stem or stalk. There is also a white variety.

Posted Image

Next up we have the needle mushrooms. Known in Japanese as enoki, these are tiny headed, long stemmed mushrooms which come in two varieties – gold (金針菇 jīn zhēn gū) and silver (银针菇 yín zhēn gū)). They are very delicate, both in appearance and taste, and are usually added to hot pots.

Posted Image

Posted Image

Then we have these fellows – tea tree mushrooms (茶树菇 chá shù gū). These I like. They take a bit of cooking as the stems are quite tough, so they are mainly used in stews and soups. But their meaty texture and distinct taste is excellent. These are also available dried.

Posted Image

Then there are the delightfully named 鸡腿菇 jī tuǐ gū or “chicken leg mushrooms”. These are known in English as "shaggy ink caps". Only the very young, still white mushrooms are eaten, as mature specimens have a tendency to auto-deliquesce very rapidly, turning to black ‘ink’, hence the English name.

Posted Image

Not in season now, but while I’m here, let me mention a couple of other mushrooms often found in the supermarkets. First, straw mushrooms (草菇 cǎo gū). Usually only found canned in western countries, they are available here fresh in the summer months. These are another favourite – usually braised with soy sauce – delicious! When out of season, they are also available canned here.

Posted Image

Then there are the curiously named Pig Stomach Mushrooms (猪肚菇 zhū dù gū). These are another favourite. They make a lovely mushroom omelette. Also, a summer find.

Posted Image

And finally, not a mushroom, but certainly a fungus and available fresh is the wood ear (木耳 mù ěr). It tastes of almost nothing, but is prized in Chinese cuisine for its crunchy texture. More usually sold dried, it is available fresh in the supermarkets now.

Posted Image

Please note that where I have given Chinese names, these are the names most commonly around this part of China, but many variations do exist.

Coming up next - the dried varieties available.
  • Blether and Shelby like this

#2 liuzhou

liuzhou
  • participating member
  • 2,246 posts
  • Location:Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Posted 24 January 2012 - 09:06 PM

DRIED MUSHROOMS

The widest selection of dried fungi is to be found, not in the supermarkets, but in the traditional Chinese medicine pharmacies. They are believed to cure almost everything and some, such as ganoderma, are being seriously investigated by western scientists for their alleged anti-cancer properties. Here I’m only going to consider the mushrooms sold for their culinary qualities rather than medicinal.

First up, just as shiitake mushrooms are the most common fresh mushrooms, they are also the most common dried mushroom. The most common name for the dried variety is 冬菇 dōng gū, or ‘winter mushroom’ (so-called because they are picked in winter).

Posted Image

They should be soaked in very hot water for about twenty to thirty minutes before use. We save the soaking water as it will now be full of the flavour of the mushrooms. It can be used in soups, stews etc for extra umami.

There are several sub-categories of dried shiitake mushrooms – the paler ones with cracked tops attract the highest prices.

The taste of the dried variety is usually stronger than that of the fresh. The drying process seems to intensify the flavour and scent. When buying them, I always smell them. The stronger the scent, the better the taste.

Dried shiitake are available in all local supermarkets, but if I ever get the chance to visit markets in the countryside, I try to find the mushrooms they have there. Picked from the wild and dried, they are fantastic. I’m fortunate to have a friend from a small village to the north, who brings me regular consignments. I can smell her coming!

Next we have these odd looking fellows. The monkey head mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) (also called lion’s mane mushroom, bearded tooth mushroom, bearded hedgehog mushroom, pom pom mushroom, or bearded tooth fungus. In Chinese they are 猴头菇 hóu tóu gū and are commonly used in soups, but can also be deep fried or sautéed.

Posted Image

Monkey head mushrooms are white when fresh, but darken to a brown color when dried. They are very occasionally available fresh in markets, but more usually found dried. Again they should be soaked for 20-30 minutes before use.

Because of their meaty texture when fried, these mushrooms are used in Chinese vegetarian dishes to replace meat. When boiled in soups they are spongy and tasteless, but prized for their texture.

Then we have bamboo pith fungus, also known as bamboo fungus, bamboo pith, long net stinkhorn, crinoline stinkhorn or veiled lady, the last three names alluding to the lacy net like structure which hangs from below the cap.

Posted Image

Until 1979, bamboo pith fungus was only found in the wild and then rarely, so was highly prized. In 1979, commercial cultivation began in Fujian province. The fungus is sold dried and requires soaking in hot water for around fifteen minutes before using.

Known locally as 竹荪 zhú sūn, the fungus can be used in stir fries, but is more traditionally used in rich chicken soups.

Then comes my favourite. Agaricus subrufescens or 姬松茸 jī sōng róng, also known as almond mushroom, mushroom of the sun, God’s mushroom, mushroom of life, royal sun agaricus, himematsutake. As usual, they should be soaked in hot water before use. They are slightly sweet with a delicate almond flavour and are delicious in stir fries, or with fish.

Posted Image

Then we have the king of all mushrooms. Boletus edulis, also known as cèpes, penny buns or porcini. Known in Chinese as 牛肝菌 niú gān jùn, which literally translates as beef liver mushroom, these I would use in soups or stir fries, with pasta or in risotto (or would if I could find risotto rice in China :angry: ) or in omelettes.

Posted Image
  • Shelby likes this

#3 liuzhou

liuzhou
  • participating member
  • 2,246 posts
  • Location:Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Posted 24 January 2012 - 09:08 PM

Other mushrooms which turn up from time to time include:

Termitomyces albuminosus

Grifola frondosa (Hen-of-the-Woods)

Craterellus cornucopioides (trumpet of death, black chanterelle, black trumpet, or horn of plenty)

Pholiota nameko - (butterscotch mushroom)

and I'm sure there are many more which I don't know.

#4 dcarch

dcarch
  • participating member
  • 2,654 posts

Posted 24 January 2012 - 09:20 PM

What about Chinese truffles?

dcarch

#5 liuzhou

liuzhou
  • participating member
  • 2,246 posts
  • Location:Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Posted 24 January 2012 - 09:28 PM

Yes, I thought about Chinese truffles, but I've only ever seen them once, in a restaurant, and that was a long time ago. I think they must all be exported to France to be sold as fakes :sad: .

#6 SusieQ

SusieQ
  • participating member
  • 102 posts
  • Location:Seattle

Posted 24 January 2012 - 09:37 PM

Wow, thank you for this and all the beautiful photos! Very useful.

#7 dcarch

dcarch
  • participating member
  • 2,654 posts

Posted 24 January 2012 - 09:56 PM

A very popular mushroom you see in stores is eringi mushroom. It has a very very thick stem.

dcarch

http://farm5.static...._e3b8837c87.jpg

#8 dcarch

dcarch
  • participating member
  • 2,654 posts

Posted 24 January 2012 - 10:18 PM

And there is the white kind of wood ears, "cloud ears"

dcarch

#9 liuzhou

liuzhou
  • participating member
  • 2,246 posts
  • Location:Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Posted 25 January 2012 - 12:32 AM

A very popular mushroom you see in stores is eringi mushroom.


This is pleurotus eryngii, known variously as king oyster mushroom, king trumpet mushroom or French horn mushroom or, in Chinese 杏鲍菇 (xìng bào gū).


See first post.

And there is the white kind of wood ears, "cloud ears"


Cloud ear fungus (Auricularia polytricha)(云耳 yún ěr) isn't white. It's brown.

The white wood ears are Tremella fuciformis or snow fungus, silver ear fungus or white jelly mushroom. In Chinese, it is variously known as 银耳 (yín ěr) or "silver ear", 雪耳 (xuě ěr) or "snow ear") or simply 白木耳 (bái mù ěr) or "white wood ear".

Edited by liuzhou, 25 January 2012 - 12:47 AM.


#10 liuzhou

liuzhou
  • participating member
  • 2,246 posts
  • Location:Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Posted 25 January 2012 - 12:49 AM

Another "jelly" fungus which turns up is Auricularia auricula-judae, also known as Jew's ear or jelly ear.

#11 Lucil

Lucil
  • participating member
  • 53 posts

Posted 25 January 2012 - 04:27 AM

i have seen taobao selling some black truffles from yunan.. maybe someone will be game enough to try...

#12 liuzhou

liuzhou
  • participating member
  • 2,246 posts
  • Location:Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Posted 25 January 2012 - 04:33 AM

maybe someone will be game enough to try

I've tried. Waste of time. They taste of nothing.

This is why French truffle sellers are so angry at the importation of Chinese truffles. See here, for example.

#13 threestars

threestars
  • participating member
  • 314 posts

Posted 25 January 2012 - 05:05 AM

Wow. Those are some really nice photos of mushrooms! :) I love mushrooms! Thanks for the info!
  • Panosmex likes this

#14 HungryChris

HungryChris
  • participating member
  • 465 posts
  • Location:Connecticut

Posted 25 January 2012 - 07:56 AM

I was first introduced to the Royal Trumpet mushroom at a farmers market in La Jolla while on vacation in San Diego. I really love the texture which is much like that of a Porcini. I use them with reconstituted dried Porcini to get the blend of the texture and flavor of the Porcini. At first, I could only find them at Whole Foods for $14.99 a pound. Imagine my surprise to see much bigger and better ones in a newly opened Chinese market near my home for $2.79 a pound.
They call them Chicken Thigh mushrooms. I call them fantastic!


HC

#15 rmillman

rmillman
  • participating member
  • 176 posts

Posted 25 January 2012 - 09:11 AM

In Kunming, we have had hot pots with over 20 varieties of mushrooms being added.
Not to be overlooked is my favorite the matsutake mushroom which were in season the last we visited.
The following is not my article but very similar to what I have experienced.

http://www.gokunming...shroom_district

#16 liuzhou

liuzhou
  • participating member
  • 2,246 posts
  • Location:Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Posted 25 January 2012 - 08:37 PM

Yes, I've eaten similar hot pots in Kunming and other parts of Yunnan province. Yunnan is famous for its mushrooms, as is Sichuan.

But there is also a restaurant of this type here in Guangxi, where I am. Called 武陵山珍 (wǔ líng shān zhēn), it is part of a Chongqing based chain with branches across China.

Here are my thoughts on the place a few years back.

This time however, I was writing about the varieties easily available in my local markets and supermarkets and not those in restaurants. If I go out into the countryside and visit local markets I can find many more varieties. When I do, I'll post some more. :biggrin:

#17 Will

Will
  • participating member
  • 460 posts

Posted 26 January 2012 - 10:21 AM

The Chinese also eat morels, usually available dried (羊肚菌; yangdu jun, or 'sheep inetestine mushroom).
http://www.danielwin...tan_plateau.htm

Even here, Chinese herb stores carry them.

The Wuyishan area in northern Fujian province, famous for its tea, also has a lot of local wild mushroom varieties. I don't have any names / pictures, but I had some cooked up fresh while I was there, and they also sell a lot of dried ones.

#18 liuzhou

liuzhou
  • participating member
  • 2,246 posts
  • Location:Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Posted 27 January 2012 - 12:11 AM

Here are the dried ganoderma (灵芝 língzhī; ganoderma lucidum) I mentioned. They are mostly used in traditional Chinese medicine, but the packet these ones came in has a recipe on the back for using them with stewed chicken. It recommends wrapping the critters in gauze before adding to the stew, then discarding before serving.

Posted Image

#19 DLim

DLim
  • participating member
  • 21 posts

Posted 28 January 2012 - 10:46 PM

We get those same varieties of fresh in supermarkets up here in Hubei. I'm surprised more selection doesn't come over from Yunnan.

As to risotto rice, you might try mixing a small amount of one of the more "glutinous" or sticky varieties (maybe even the kind they use for 粽子) in with another kind of rice. I've done a nice risotto-style dishes here with other grains I found here - 小麦 (some kind of partially milled wheat berries I think) and 燕麦米 (a sort of long-grained barley or farro? dunno). The wheat berries especially cook up with a level of chewiness that I enjoy, while some glutinous rice combined with fat and cheese gives all the creaminess you could want.

#20 liuzhou

liuzhou
  • participating member
  • 2,246 posts
  • Location:Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Posted 04 February 2012 - 12:35 AM

Here are the white "wood ears", Tremella fuciformis or snow fungus, silver ear fungus or white jelly mushroom mentioned in post #9.

Posted Image

#21 dcarch

dcarch
  • participating member
  • 2,654 posts

Posted 04 February 2012 - 05:25 AM

Yesterday I went to Chinatown and I bought "花菇".

By comparision, store white mushrooms are tasteless.

dcarch
  • David Hensley likes this

#22 Will

Will
  • participating member
  • 460 posts

Posted 04 February 2012 - 11:37 AM

Yesterday I went to Chinatown and I bought "花菇".

Perfect timing - I was just going to post about this. 花菇 (huāgū), 白花菇 (báihuāgū), and 冬菇 (dōnggū) (see also http://en.wikipedia....nomy_and_naming) still fall into the category of xianggu / shitake.

Huagu are what we usually keep around for using with Chinese cooking; I think they are a bit nicer than the smooth textured style you find in most Western markets (also available here fresh, though dried are most appropriate for many applications). The dried ones come in various sizes and grades. The top has a texture with a kind of flower pattern, which I'm sure is why they're called 花菇.
  • Panosmex likes this

#23 Big Joe the Pro

Big Joe the Pro
  • participating member
  • 103 posts
  • Location:Beijing, China

Posted 05 February 2012 - 04:00 PM

Many thanks for the photos and especially the Chinese names, they'll be a big help next time I go to the market. I didn't know we could get porcini mushrooms, I'd been bringing them from the States. We can get risotto rice here in Beijing at Metro and also at some local shops & markets that cater to foreign foods. This is a search I did for it on Taobao.
Thanks for the tips about the King Oyster mushrooms, I'd been trying them in stir-fries where they definitely don't work so well.
Ok, happy cooking.

Edited by Big Joe the Pro, 05 February 2012 - 04:02 PM.

Maybe I would have more friends if I didn't eat so much garlic?

#24 Will

Will
  • participating member
  • 460 posts

Posted 05 February 2012 - 10:25 PM

Thanks for the tips about the King Oyster mushrooms, I'd been trying them in stir-fries where they definitely don't work so well.

Cooking King Oyster mushrooms too long can actually make them quite tough. The trick is to cook them just enough, but not more. They should definitely have some chew, but shouldn't be overly tough. They are good lightly braised, and served on top of baby bai cai or other green veg.

They can work well stir-fried or pan-fried. They will always have that slightly chewy texture, though. My mother-in-law uses cubes of them mixed in with cubes of wheat gluten when she makes vegetarian gongbao "chicken".

#25 liuzhou

liuzhou
  • participating member
  • 2,246 posts
  • Location:Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Posted 05 February 2012 - 11:33 PM

Here's a kind of catch-up on some of the dried mushrooms / fungi mentioned above but not illustrated.

First here is dried cloud ear fungus (云耳 yún ěr) Auricularia polytricha

Posted Image

and then Jew's ear or jelly ear Auricularia auricula-judae. Most unusually the Chinese name is the rather prosaic 黑木耳 hēi mù ěr, which simply means black wood ear.

Posted Image

Finally "flower mushroom" 花菇 huā gū which, as has been noted, is actually a more highly prized type of dried shiitake mushroom (冬菇 dōng gū).

Posted Image

Edited by liuzhou, 05 February 2012 - 11:36 PM.

  • Shelby likes this

#26 Will

Will
  • participating member
  • 460 posts

Posted 05 February 2012 - 11:53 PM

Regarding the comments in the first post about soaking dried Chinese mushrooms in hot water, my understanding has always been that you get better results for many types of mushroom with a long soak in cool water, rather than a short soak in hot water.

With shitakes, I'll sometimes cheat and soak for a couple hours in warmer water, but normally, I try to soak stem-down for 8+ hours in room temperature water. This is what I usually do for most other dried stuff used in Chinese cooking too (mian lun, fu zhu, etc.).

What do other folks do?

Edited by Will, 05 February 2012 - 11:54 PM.


#27 liuzhou

liuzhou
  • participating member
  • 2,246 posts
  • Location:Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Posted 06 February 2012 - 01:32 AM

I've never known anyone in China to soak mushrooms or anything else in cold water for so long. For example, the hua gu pictured above were pre-packed and the instructions on the bag say to soak in hot water for 20 minutes and that is all I have ever seen people do.

Posted Image

What advantage would there be in soaking in cold water?

#28 Big Joe the Pro

Big Joe the Pro
  • participating member
  • 103 posts
  • Location:Beijing, China

Posted 06 February 2012 - 01:39 AM

Regarding the comments in the first post about soaking dried Chinese mushrooms in hot water, my understanding has always been that you get better results for many types of mushroom with a long soak in cool water, rather than a short soak in hot water.

With shitakes, I'll sometimes cheat and soak for a couple hours in warmer water, but normally, I try to soak stem-down for 8+ hours in room temperature water. This is what I usually do for most other dried stuff used in Chinese cooking too (mian lun, fu zhu, etc.).

What do other folks do?

I usually:
  • put the dried ones in a (largish-rice) bowl
  • cover them with tap water
  • cover the bowl with cling film
  • pierce it a couple times with a knife and then
  • zap it in the microwave for about a minute then
  • let them soak about an hour.
I'm not sure exactly where I picked that up at, America's Test Kitchen possibly? I've never tried any other way so I've nothing to compare it to but perhaps I should try another way? This seems to work out ok however.
Maybe I would have more friends if I didn't eat so much garlic?

#29 ChrisTaylor

ChrisTaylor
  • host
  • 2,212 posts
  • Location:Melbourne

Posted 06 February 2012 - 02:25 AM

Awesome mushroom porn. A truly great and informative thread. We can get a lot--but far from all--of those locally in fresh form. I, too, had been wondering about what to do with king oysters--I'd tried a couple of methods, including my go-to recipe for roast mushrooms (usually used with Swiss browns or, say, small portobellos), without much (i.e. edible results) success. Will keep braising in mind.

Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between


#30 naguere

naguere
  • participating member
  • 433 posts

Posted 06 February 2012 - 06:55 AM

Thank you so much, what a thrilling post.

with the photographs and descriptions , you could write a book.



I will read it more than once.
Who cares how time progresses..

Today I am drinking ale.

(Edgar Allen Poe)





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Chinese