Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

liuzhou

Mushrooms and Fungi in China

Recommended Posts

liuzhou   

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.

 

Buttonmushrooms.jpg

 

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.

 

800px-Fresh_shiitake_mushrooms.jpg

 

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.

 

Oyster_mushoom.jpg

 

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.

 

PleurotusgeesteranusMedium.jpg

 

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

 

PleurotusJurcaMedium.jpg

 

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.

 

Kingoystermushrooms.jpg

 

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.

 

ShimejiMedium.jpg

 

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.

 

Goldenenokimushrooms.jpg

 

Enokimushrooms.jpg

 

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.

 

800px-Tea_tree_mushrooms.jpg

 

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.

 

800px-Coprinus_comatus2.jpg

 

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.

 

800px-Straw_mushrooms.jpg

 

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.

 

zhudugu.jpg

 

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.

 

800px-Fresh_wood_ear_fungus.jpg

 

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.


Edited by liuzhou Formatting (log)
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
liuzhou   

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).

 

Shiitake2.jpg

 

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.

 

800px-Monkey_head_mushroom.jpg

 

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.

 

800px-Bamboo_pith_mushroom.jpg

 

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.

 

Agaricussubrufescens800.jpg

 

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.

 

Boletusedulis.jpg


Edited by liuzhou Formatting (log)
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
liuzhou   

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
liuzhou   
Quote
A very popular mushroom you see in stores is eringi mushroom.
Quote
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.

 

Quote
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 formatting (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
liuzhou   

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:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Will   

The Chinese also eat morels, usually available dried (羊肚菌; yangdu jun, or 'sheep inetestine mushroom).

http://www.danielwinkler.com/morels_of_the_tibetan_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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
liuzhou   

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.

ganoderma.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
DLim   

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
dcarch   

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

By comparision, store white mushrooms are tasteless.

dcarch

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Will   

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.org/wiki/Shiitake#Taxonomy_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.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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 (log)

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Will   

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".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
liuzhou   

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

yuner800.jpg

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.

heimuer800.jpg

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).

huagu800.jpg


Edited by liuzhou (log)
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Similar Content

    • By liuzhou
      We are all used to unami now. Maybe it's time to consider gan. Particularly found in teas, but also in other foods. An interesting article from a great magazine.
       
      Going, going gan
    • By liuzhou
      I’m an idiot. It’s official.
       
      A couple of weeks back, on another thread, the subject of celtuce and its leafing tops came up (somewhat off-topic). Someone said that the tops are difficult to find in Asian markets and I replied that I also find the tops difficult to find here in China. Nonsense. They are very easy to find. They just go under a completely different name from the stems – something which had slipped my very slippery mind.
       
      So, here on-topic is some celtuce space.
       
      First, for those who don’t know what celtuce is, let me say it is a variety of lettuce which looks nothing like a lettuce. It is very popular in southern mainland China and Taiwan. It is also known in English as stem lettuce, celery lettuce, asparagus lettuce, or Chinese lettuce. In Chinese it is 莴笋 wō sǔn or 莴苣 wō jù, although the latter can simply mean lettuce of any variety.

      Lactuca sativa var. asparagina is 'celtuce' for the technically minded.
       

       
      Those in the picture are about 40 cm (15.7 inches) long and have a maximum diameter of 5 cm (2 inches). The stems are usually peeled, sliced and used in various stir fries, although they can also be braised, roasted etc. The taste is somewhere between lettuce and celery, hence the name. The texture is more like the latter.
       
      The leafing tops are, as I said, sold separately and under a completely different name. They are 油麦菜 yóu mài cài.
       

       
      These taste similar to Romaine lettuce and can be eaten raw in salads. In Chinese cuisine,  they are usually briefly stir fried with garlic until they wilt and served as a green vegetable – sometimes with oyster sauce.
       
      If you can find either the stems or leaves in your Asian market, I strongly recommend giving them a try.
    • By Duvel
      “… and so it begins!”
       
      Welcome to “Tales from the Fragrant Harbour”!
      In the next couple of days I am hoping to take you to a little excursion to Hong Kong to explore the local food and food culture as well as maybe a little bit more about my personal culinary background. I hope I can give you a good impression of what life is like on this side of the globe and am looking very forward to answering questions, engaging in spirited discussions and just can share a bit of my everyday life with you. Before starting with the regular revealing shots of my fridge’s content and some more information on myself, I’d like to start this blog and a slightly different place.
      For today's night, I ‘d like to report back from Chiba city, close to Tokyo, Japan. It’s my last day of a three day business trip and it’s a special day here in Japan: “Doyou no ushi no hi”. The “midsummer day of the ox”, which is actually one of the earlier (successful) attempts of a clever marketing stunt.  As sales of the traditional winter dish “Unagi” (grilled eel with sweet soy sauce) plummeted in summer, a clever merchant took advantage of the folk tale that food items starting with the letter “U” (like ume = sour plum and uri = gourd) dispel the summer heat, so he introduced “Unagi” as a new dish best enjoyed on this day. It was successful, and even in the supermarkets the sell Unagi-Don and related foods. Of course, I could not resist to take advantage and requested tonight dinner featuring eel. Thnaks to our kind production plant colleagues, I had what I was craving …
      (of course the rest of the food was not half as bad)

      Todays suggestion: Unagi (grilled eel) and the fitting Sake !
       

      For starters: Seeweed (upper left), raw baby mackerel with ginger (upper right) and sea snails. I did not care for the algae, but the little fishes were very tasty.
       

      Sahimi: Sea bream, Tuna and clam ...
       

      Tempura: Shrimp, Okra, Cod and Mioga (young pickled ginger sprouts).
       

      Shioyaki Ayu: salt-grilled river fish. I like this one a lot. I particularly enjoy the fixed shape mimicking the swimming motion. The best was the tail fin
       

      Wagyu: "nuff said ...
       

      Gourd. With a kind of jellied Oden stock. Nice !
       

      Unagi with Sansho (mountain pepper)
       

      So, so good. Rich and fat and sweet and smoky. I could eat a looooot of that ...
       

      Chawan Mushi:steamed egg custard. A bit overcooked. My Japanese hosts very surprised when I told them that I find it to be cooked at to high temperatures (causing the custard to loose it's silkiness), but they agreed.
       

      Part of the experience was of course the Sake. I enjoyed it a lot but whether this is the one to augment the taste of the Unagi I could not tell ...
       

      More Unagi (hey it's only twice per year) ...
       

      Miso soup with clams ...
       

      Tiramisu.
       

      Outside view of the restaurant. Very casual!
      On the way home I enjoyed a local IPA. Craft beer is a big thing in Japan at the moment (as probably anywhere else in the world), so at 29 oC in front of the train station I had this. Very fruity …

       
      When I came back to the hotel, the turn down service had made my bed and placed a little Origami crane on my pillow. You just have to love this attention to detail.

    • By liuzhou
      One of my local supermarkets recently installed a sesame seed pressing facility and is now producing sesame oil and sesame paste. Their equipment toasts and extracts the oil and the residue is turned into the paste. Of course, I bought some of each.
       
      I have only used the oil so far. It tastes and smells more intensely than any I have bought before. The aroma also seems to last longer in a dish.
       

       
      These are the white seed versions. They also do black seed oil and paste which I haven't bought yet.
       
      Neither has any brand label - only a bar code on the back so that the check-out staff can deal with it.
       
      I am sorely tempted to try this recipe from Carolyn Philips for celtuce with sesame oil, paste and seeds. I'll let you know how I get on with this or any other recipe. Suggestions welcome, as always.
    • By liuzhou
      I think you’ll see in a moment why I didn’t just post this on the Lunch! topic. It was exceptional. An epic and it has been an epic sorting through the 634 photographs I took in about three hours. If I counted correctly, there are only 111 here.
       
      Like so many things, it came out of the blue. I was kind of aware that there was a Chinese holiday this week, but being self-semi-employed I am often a man of leisure and the holidays make little impact on my life. This one is in celebration of the Dragon Boat Festival (端午节 duān wǔ jié) and although it features nothing boat-like, it was festive and there is a dragon link.
       
      It started with this invitation which appeared on my WeChat (Chinese social media) account.
       

       
      Longtan (龙潭 lóng tán) means Dragon’s Pool and is more of a hamlet. It is about an hour’s drive north of Liuzhou city. I’d never heard of it and certainly never been there, but a friend of a friend had decided that a “foreign friend” would add just the right note to the planned event. I’ve seen many pictures of such “Long Table“ lunches and even attended one before – but this one was different and I was delighted to be invited.
       
      So, I was picked up outside my city centre home at 9 am and the adventure began. We arrived at the village at 9:45 to be met by the friend in question. He led me to what appeared to be the head man’s home, outside which was a large courtyard with a few men sitting at a trestle table seemingly finishing a breakfast of hot, meaty rice porridge washed down with beer or rice wine. I was offered a bowl of the porridge, but declined the beer or rice wine in favour of a cup of tea. After downing that and making introductions etc, I was left to wander around on my own watching all the activity.
       
       

       

      Rice Porridge
       
      Here goes. I'm posting these mostly in the order they were taken, in order to give some sense of how the event progressed.
       

       
      These two men were the undisputed kings of this venture, organising everyone, checking every detail, instructing less  experienced volunteers etc. It was obvious these men had been working since the early hours. and their breakfast was a break in their toil. There were piles of still steaming cooked pork belly in containers all over the courtyard.
       

      Some of this had been the meat in the rice porridge, I learned.
       
       

      This young lad had been set to chopping chicken. Not one chicken! Dozens.
       

       

       

       

       

      Entrails, insides and fat were all carefully preserved.
       
      In the meantime, the two masters continued boiling their lumps of pork belly. This they refer to as 五花肉 - literally "five flower" pork", the five flowers being layers of skin, fat and meat.
       

       

       
      Another man was dealing with fish. Carp from the village pond. He scaled and cleaned them with his cleaver. Dozens of them. 
       

       

       

       

       
      And all around, various preparations are being prepared.
       

      Peeling Garlic
       

       

      Gizzards and intestines.
       

      More Pork . You can see the five layers here.
       
      to be continued
       
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×