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Chiuchow Cuisine


nickrey
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Having been lucky enough to sample the food at the T-Chow Chinese restaurant in Adelaide, South Australia, I've developed a strong interest in this form of cuisine. It is variously known as Chiuchow cuisine, Teochew cuisine, Chaozhou cuisine, or Chaoshan cuisine (Chinese: 潮州菜) [descriptions and Chinese characters from Wikipedia].

My problem is that I have not been able to find any cookbooks on this style of food. Some cookbooks have a few recipes but I've not been able to find one that has more than this.

Can anyone help out?

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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I can't help, but I'm very interested too. T Chow was one of my favourite restaurants in Adelaide, and I have tried to recreate the dishes I ate with varying degrees of success. Some kind of guidance would be much appreciated.

Nick,

What did you eat? My favourites were the cabbage rolls, the salty fish rice and the oyster omelette.

EDIT: And the tender duck!

Edited by Nayan Gowda (log)

Itinerant winemaker

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I also had the duck, the oyster omelette, and a vegetable dish.

They also had a special menu to die. From this, if memory serves me correctly, I had stingray; which was a cold dish. My father, who accompanied me, was brave enough to try this, which was a real achievement.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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Having been lucky enough to sample the food at the T-Chow Chinese restaurant in Adelaide, South Australia, I've developed a strong interest in this form of cuisine. It is variously known as Chiuchow cuisine, Teochew cuisine, Chaozhou cuisine, or Chaoshan cuisine (Chinese: 潮州菜) [descriptions and Chinese characters from Wikipedia].

My problem is that I have not been able to find any cookbooks on this style of food. Some cookbooks have a few recipes but I've not been able to find one that has more than this.

I'm not sure you will find much in the way of cookbooks, especially in English. There's only so much out there in English even about famous Chinese cuisines. Online, you may be able to find a few things. Chaozhou / Chaoshan cuisine is in some ways a subset of Cantonese cooking (since Chaoshan is technically in Guangdong), but the style is slightly different, partly because of its proximity to Fujian. If there are specific recipes you are looking for, that might be a good place to start, since those could probably be found online.

Starting with some basic Cantonese cookbooks and trying to incorporate the seasonings / stocks mentioned in the Wikpedia article might also be worthwhile (as would learning to make the style of congee / rice soup mentioned in the Wikipedia article). I believe Andrea Nguyen has the recipe for Gu Chai Gue (jiu cai guo) in her book (these "dumplings" are made with Chinese leek / garlic chive, and the outside is the wheat starch wrapper used for har gow / xia jiao, not the one used for normal jiaozi.

Chaozhou cuisine has been pretty popular in some places (like HK) for a while, but where I live, at least, most Chaozhou restaurants don't purely serve the cuisine of that area, but also have either more straight-ahead Cantonese food or Vietnamese food. There are a lot of people from that area who have settled in SE Asia (Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, etc.), so you see a lot of that influence.

You could take a look at http://thelittleteochew.blogspot.com/ -- the name refers to the person, not the cuisine, but but you will find a few recipes and some information about the cuisine there. Learning to make the Muay (plain rice porridge) mentioned in the Wikipedia article would also be a good idea. I'm not sure whether it's made completely white (without stock or fish) or whether Chinese dried scallops are used in the cooking. I would assume you use sticky rice, as with zhou / jook, rather than cooked rice (as with the xi fan made in some other areas).

I think you'll find a bunch of recipes on this site (a friend mentioned it recently, and came across it again today while responding to this post):

Are these helpful as a starting point?

http://rasamalaysia.com/teochew-braised-duck-lo-ack/

http://rasamalaysia.com/fried-eggs-with-preserved-turnip/#more-5422

http://rasamalaysia.com/fried-radish-cake-recipe/

http://thelittleteochew.blogspot.com/2009/05/homemade-radish-cake.html

http://roseskitchen.wordpress.com/2007/02/24/koo-chai-kueh/

Hopefully, if there are any folks from that area on this board, they will grace us with some of their home cooking recipes.

Edited by Will (log)
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Should have guessed from the name; unlike most Cantonese rice porridge, the 潮州糜 (mei / mue) is made with cooked (normal) rice, not with uncooked sticky rice. I'll try to find a recipe online when I have more time, but basically, take cooked white rice and cook it with more water (maybe 8:1 as a starting point).

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Will, I'm also interested in Teochew cuisine because it's part of own heritage (dad) and there is a particular cookbook I've had my eye on called 'The Food and Cooking of South China: Discover the vibrant flavors of Cantonese, Shantou, Hakka and Island cuisine' by Terry Tan. The "Shantou" mentioned is a Teochew city (within Chaoshan...and also happens to be the city of my ancestry). Unfortunately, I have not yet flipped through the book because I've only caught sight of it online.

But for now, this seems closest to what you're looking for.

However, you may also want to check out some Fujian cookbooks because Teochew is very similar to it (not just because of proximity but the Teochew were in fact a migrating group of people from southern Fujian itself) and shares many dishes.

I have 'Cooking from China's Fujian Province' by Jacqueline M. Newman and while I haven't had the time to cook from it, the recipes seem very authentic.

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Teochew cuisine generally has a lighter touch where seasonings are concerned to allow the freshness of the ingredients used to shine. A case in point is their steamed fish which uses sour plum, salted vegetables, pieces of lard, tomatoes. I've not come across a book that is dedicated solely to it, so will be interested to find out what Jacqueline Newman's book contains.

You will be able to surf and come up with some recipes. The Teochew recipes from South East Asia may sometimes include the use of ingredients not common in mainland Chinese cooking, because the Teochew and Hokkien Chinese had married South East Asians to produce the Peranakans or nyonyas-babas, who have a unique cuisine. The use of lemongrass and galangal in the braised duck recipe here - My link from Will is one example. My recipe for braised duck is very similar to it, although goose would have been the preferred bird.

We would never use the har gao wrapper for the chive dumpling; making the dumpling skin is an art in itself.

Are there specific dishes that you would be interested in? Some typical dishes would include pig's ear in aspic, oyster omelette (two varieties - the soft and the crispy variety), fish maw soup, steamed fish - pomfret is a favourite fish, braised goose/duck and of course, for dessert, or nee (which is a rich paste of mashed yam with lard and coconut milk).

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Thanks so very much Will. I've ordered the book and will report back about its contents.

And thank you LT Wong, any of those recipes would be great.

Ce'nedra, I know you have a strong interest in regional Chinese cooking so am not surprised that you have also been sourcing books on this area. That Fujian book looks very interesting as well.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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I've always been curious about the assertion in the Wikipedia article that Chaozhou cuisine is famous for its vegetarian dishes... is there any truth to this? Folks I know who are from this region or visit this region don't seem to be aware of these dishes, though I'd love to hear about them if they do.

Chaozhou is also, of course, famous as the birthplace of gongfu tea, and the region is notable also for its locally produced tea (Fenghuangshan teas such as Fenghuang Shui Xian (different from Wuyi Shui Xian) and Fenghuang Dancong), Shantou / Chaozhou teapots and clay stoves / kettles (all made from local clay).

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  • 1 year later...

I agree wholeheartedly with everyone who loves Chaozhou (aka Teochew or Chiuchow) cuisine. It has to be one of the best around, especially when seafood is on the menu. A dish that is quite popular in Taiwan is Dry Fried Flounder, and I'm pretty certain that this is from Chaozhou, since it has all of the flavor elements of that region. Does anyone know for sure?

Anyway, I never could find a recipe for a dish that we always order in restaurants, so I had a lot of try & fail experiences in working this one out. Finally, after too many attempts to mention, I'm happy to report complete success! This is my own recipe, so I hope you enjoy it as much as we do...

flounder.gif></a></p><p><strong>Dry fried flounder</strong> -- 乾煎龍利  <em>Ganjian longli</em></p><p>Serves 4 to 6 as part of a multicourse meal, or 2 to 3 as a main entree</p><p>1 whole flounder or other flatfish, about 1 pound (see Tips)</p><p>2 teaspoons sea salt</p><p>2 teaspoons Shaoxing rice wine</p><p>6 cups (or more) frying oil (see Tips)</p><p>2 tablespoons fresh peanut or vegetable oil</p><p>3 green onions, trimmed</p><p>3 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine</p><p>3 tablespoons filtered water or stock</p><p>2 teaspoons regular soy sauce, or to taste</p><p>½ teaspoon sugar</p><p>1. Gut the fish by cutting under the chin and removing the small pouch of organs; scrape out any black skin in there, as this is often very bitter. Remove the gills, too, which look like pink eyelashes. Scale the fish by scraping a knife from tail to head on both sides of the fish; when you are done and all the scales have been washed off, the fish should look pink rather than gray. </p><p>2. Pat the fish dry with a paper towel or two and lay it on a cutting board. Use your knife to cut diagonal slashes a little more than an inch apart, from about a 10:00 position down to a 4:00 position; these should go all the way down to (but not through) the bones, and cover the entire width of the fish body, but do not cut into the frills around the edge. Flip the fish over and do the same thing. (Make sure that the cuts use the same angle on both sides so that when you hold the fish up to the light, you can see XXX marks down its body. This keeps the fish from falling apart as you fry it, while allowing the meat to cook very quickly.)</p><p>3. Lay the fish on a platter and rub the salt into both sides. Sprinkle it with the 2 teaspoons rice wine, and let it marinate for 10 to 20 minutes. At the end of this time, drain off all of the marinade and pat the fish very, very dry. Wipe out even the inside of the head and cavity so that there are no drops of water to explode in the hot oil. Then. lay the fish on a dry paper towel while you prepare everything else.</p><p>4. Pour enough frying oil into your wok so that it is at least 1½ inches deep; this will ensure that there is enough hot oil to rapidly fry the fish and make it both crispy and succulent. Heat the oil over high until it starts to smoke. While you are waiting, prepare a serving platter, and have a pair of cooking chopsticks, a wok spatula, and either a spatter screen or a large lid ready. Also, make the sauce in the next step so that it is ready when the fish is.</p><p>5. Prepare the sauce in a small pan by heating the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over high heat until it is sizzling, and then adding the green onions. Stir them quickly over the high heat to release their fragrance, and then add the rest of the rice wine, water or stock, soy sauce, and sugar. Bring the sauce to a boil, taste, and adjust the seasoning. Turn off the heat under the sauce.</p><p>6. While the oil is heating up, clear the kitchen of children and pets and anyone who will get in your way. </p><p>7. Holding the fish by the tail in one hand and either the spatter screen or the lid in your other, slide the fish into the hot oil and immediately cover the wok with the screen or lid, as the water in the flesh will start to explode. This will die down fast, and if you can, keep your grip on the tail so that you slide the fish around so that all of it gets a chance to brown. There is no need to flip the fish over if you have enough hot oil; just use your spatula to lightly press down on the fish and scoot it around. When the fish has fried for about 5 minutes, slide the tail end in so that all of the tail fin gets fried, too; this is a very thin part of the fish, so it will fry up fast. </p><p>8. Depending upon your fish, the heat of your stove, and the depth of the oil, the fish will be ready in about 7 to 10 minutes. It should be a golden brown all over, the fins and frills will be browned and crispy, and the meat will have pulled away from the bones where you slashed the flesh (see the top photo). Place your platter next to the wok. Use your spatula to scoop down under the fish body and your chopsticks to steady the tail end to lift up the fish, drain off the oil, and place it carefully on your platter. If you feel uneasy about this, use two spatulas, or even ask someone to help. (Turn off the heat and push the wok to the back of the stove out of harm

9. Bring the sauce to a quick boil and pour it over the fish. Serve immediately.

Tips

NOTE: SERVE THIS ONLY TO PEOPLE WHO UNDERSTAND THAT THE BONES ARE NOT TO BE EATEN, ONLY THE FINS AND FRILLS. The bones inside the flesh will be hard and are inedible. Do not serve this to people who are unclear on this point, and this includes children, as they could choke on the hard bones.

Use whatever local flatfish you have that is sustainable and tasty. This link gives some good suggestions.

Do not use a fish that is much larger than a pound here unless you have a restaurant-sized wok. The ratio of fish to hot oil is important, and if the fish is either too thick or too long, it won't cook fast enough and will crumble.

Be sure to use a large amount of oil here. This is crucial to achieving the correct balance of crisp edges and succulent meat before the skeleton cooks too and the fish dissolves into a sodden mess.

Salting the fish helps draw out more of the moisture, since water in hot oil explodes. Also, it lowers the temperature of the oil, and the drier the fish, the faster it cooks.

When drying the fish, don't skimp on the paper towels.

The oil can be reused, since flounder and other flatfish are very mild flavored. Just strain the cooled oil and store it in a cool, dark place, like the fridge. Toss it whenever it starts to darken or have a strong aroma.

Once you master this dish, make it your own. Season it with other aromatics, or even change the sauce. It's up to you.

@MadameHuang & madamehuang.com & ZesterDaily.com

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There's a Chaozhou restaurant in Shanghai, Howard's Kitchen, that I've been meaning to try, but at about $150 a head it's quite pricey, more than double what one would spend even at other very fancy Chinese restaurants.

The review says it has a focus on fresh seafood, but I could spend that money at a sushi place. Anyway, those of you that know more about Chaozhou cuisine, convince me to go to this restaurant. What should I expect?

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  • 2 weeks later...

There was a ChiuChow resterant in NYC's Chinatown (long since closed) that had a great chicken dish that had a strange flaky flavorful crispy vegetable -- that turned out to be deep fried spinach. I've never had it this way in any dish and was delighted when I found a recipe for it. Interested in it?

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Yes please. I've use deep fried baby spinach before on a fish dish from a Nobu recipe and it would be lovely to see how it is used in the chicken dish.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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CHIU CHOW CHICKEN WITH CRISPY SPINACH

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs

Marinade:

1 tsp, dark soy

1 tsp. light soy sauce

1 tsp.sugar

1 tsp. sesame oil

1 tsp. sherry

1 egg white, beaten

2 Tbsp. cornstarch

Sauce: 1 Tbsp. oyster sauce

½ tsp. sugar

2 Tbsp. chicken broth

1 tsp. cornstarch

3 cups oil

½ pound fresh spinach

2 scallions sliced diagonally

1 tsp. coarsely ground pepper

1 Tbsp. sherry or Shao-Hsing wine

1 scallion finely sliced for garnish

PREPARTIONS:

Cut the chicken into 1 inch pieces. / Combine the ingredients for the marinade. / Add the chicken and mix well. / Allow to sit 20 to 30 minutes / Combine the ingredients for the sauce and set aside. / Trim and wash the spinach AND DRY WELL!!! / Measure the pepper in a cup and set aside. / Measure the sherry in a cup and set aside. / Slice the scallion and set aside.

COOKING:

Heat a wok and add the oil. (Have a cover handy for the splatter) When oil has reached 375’, add a handful of spinach, bar against the splatter, and deep/fry for about 30 seconds or until the leaves change color. Remove to paper towels. Continue with the rest of the spinach.

Heat the oil to 350’. Stir the chicken, add to the oil and gently stir around to separate pieces. When golden, about 2 to 3 minutes, remove and drain from the oil.

Drain oil, or use new wok. Add 2 Tbsp oil and heat. Add diagonal scallions and stir/fry a few moments. Add the pepper. Stir. Return the chicken and heat. Add the sherry, stir in to coat the chicken. Stir the sauce mix and add to the chicken. Stir till all is hot.

SERVING: Place spinach around a platter, and place the chicken in the center. Sprinkle with the scallions and serve.

Alternate Method:

Rather than velvet the Chicken, you can stir/fry it.

MARINADE:

2 Tbsp. dark soy

1 tsp. sherry

1 tsp. sugar

salt to taste

2 tsp. cornstarch

Stir/fry in 2 Tbsp. oil, adding a sprinkle of water if needed to keep chicken from drying out.

Remove chicken from wok and continue with the recipe.

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      Red Sichuan peppercorns can come from a number of Zanthoxylum varieties including Zanthoxylum simulans, Zanthoxylum bungeanum, Zanthoxylum schinifolium, etc.
       

      Red Sichuan Peppercorns
       
      Another, less common, variety is 青花椒 (qīng huā jiāo) green Sichuan peppercorn, Zanthoxylum armatum. These are also known as 藤椒 (téng jiāo). This grows all over Asia, from Pakistan to Japan and down to the countries of SE Asia. This variety is significantly more floral in taste and, at its freshest, smells strongly of lime peel. These are often used with fish, rabbit, frog etc. Unlike red peppercorns (usually), the green variety are often used in their un-dried state, but not often outside Sichuan.
       

      Green Sichuan Peppercorns
       

      Fresh Green Sichuan Peppercorns

      I strongly recommend NOT buying Sichuan peppercorns in supermarkets outside China. They lose their scent, flavour and numbing quality very rapidly. There are much better examples available on sale online. I have heard good things about The Mala Market in the USA, for example.

      I buy mine in small 30 gram / 1oz bags from a high turnover vendor. And that might last me a week. It’s better for me to restock regularly than to use stale peppercorns.

      Both red and green peppercorns are used in the preparation of flavouring oils, often labelled in English as 'Prickly Ash Oil'. 花椒油 (huā jiāo yóu) or 藤椒油 (téng jiāo yóu).
       

       
      The tree's leaves are also used in some dishes in Sichuan, but I've never seen them out of the provinces where they grow.
       
      A note on my use of ‘Sichuan’ rather than ‘Szechuan’.
       
      If you ever find yourself in Sichuan, don’t refer to the place as ‘Szechuan’. No one will have any idea what you mean!

      ‘Szechuan’ is the almost prehistoric transliteration of 四川, using the long discredited Wade-Giles romanization system. Thomas Wade was a British diplomat who spoke fluent Mandarin and Cantonese. After retiring as a diplomat, he was elected to the post of professor of Chinese at Cambridge University, becoming the first to hold that post. He had, however, no training in theoretical linguistics. Herbert Giles was his replacement. He (also a diplomat rather than an academic) completed a romanization system begun by Wade. This became popular in the late 19th century, mainly, I suggest, because there was no other!

      Unfortunately, both seem to have been a little hard of hearing. I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked why the Chinese changed the name of their capital from Peking to Beijing. In fact, the name didn’t change at all. It had always been pronounced with /b/ rather than /p/ and /ʤ/ rather than /k/. The only thing which changed was the writing system.

      In 1958, China adopted Pinyin as the standard romanization, not to help dumb foreigners like me, but to help lower China’s historically high illiteracy rate. It worked very well indeed, Today, it is used in primary schools and in some shop or road signs etc., although street signs seldom, if ever, include the necessary tone markers without which it isn't very helpful.
       

      A local shopping mall. The correct pinyin (with tone markers) is 'dōng dū bǎi huò'.
       
      But pinyin's main use today is as the most popular input system for writing Chinese characters on computers and cell-phones. I use it in this way every day, as do most people. It is simpler and more accurate than older romanizations. I learned it in one afternoon.  I doubt anyone could have done that with Wade-Giles.
       
      Pinyin has been recognised for over 30 years as the official romanization by the International Standards Organization (ISO), the United Nations and, believe it or not, The United States of America, along with many others. Despite this recognition, old romanizations linger on, especially in America. Very few people in China know any other than pinyin. 四川 is  'sì chuān' in pinyin.
    • By liuzhou
      An eG member recently asked me by private message about mushrooms in China, so I thought I'd share some information here.

      This is what available in the markets and supermarkets in the winter months - i.e now. I'll update as the year goes by.
       
      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.
       

       
      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.
       

       
      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.
       

       
      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.
       

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

       
      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.
       

       
      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 which is sometimes called 白玉 菇 bái yù gū.
       

       

       
      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.
       

       

       
      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.
       

       
      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.
       

       
      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.
       

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

       
      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.
       

       
      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.
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