• 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

90 posts in this topic

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 (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

instructions.jpg

What advantage would there be in soaking in cold water?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.


Martial.2,500 Years ago:

If pale beans bubble for you in a red earthenware pot, you can often decline the dinners of sumptuous hosts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What advantage would there be in soaking in cold water?

I haven't done extensive direct comparison, but in my experience, cooler water seems to give a better flavor and a more even texture to the rehydrated mushrooms, and I think less of the flavor seems to be released into the water. Also, it will depend on the size, etc., but even with fairly hot water, soaking for only 20-30 minutes doesn't seem to hydrate the mushrooms enough for me -- the middle is generally still too tough -- might be Ok, depending on how the mushrooms will be further cooked.

My in-laws soak in cool water, but just to make sure they're not weird, I did an informal survey of a few (5 so far) ethnic Chinese about what they or their parents do. Some of them are from Mainland China; others from Taiwan, HK, or SE Asia. Most said they soak in cool or room temperature water, with longer soaking times (from 2-3 hours to overnight), unless they're in a hurry. So, regardless of the reason, I don't think this is an uncommon practice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another commonly available fresh mushroom is the Jade Gill Mushroom (海鲜菇 hǎi xiān gū, literally "seafood mushroom"). Although this looks like a larger version of the enoki mushrooms above, it is actually a variety of the shimeji mushroom (also above). Shimeji normally grow in bunches but when they grow individually they are referred to as jade gill mushrooms. They are used in cold dishes and soups.

haixiangu800.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What does it mean when dried mushrooms start turning white?

I have dried shiitakes and porchinis, stored airtight well over a year, turning white. I realize that I've held them too long, but I've been using them, so I assume they're safe to eat. But I wonder if there any concerns or reasons why they should not be eaten.


Monterey Bay area

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is one type of fresh mushroom which I bought a few years ago from my regular trusted mushroom seller in the local market. I never did positively identify them. She never had them again, so she probably can't remember either. I must print out the picture and see if she does.

They really look like the chocolate mushrooms they sell to the kids round here, but I promise they were real!

mushrooms.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I came across these today. I'm not sure what they are. The Chinese is 松柏菇 (sōng bǎi gū), which literally translates as 'pine cypress mushroom'. Mr. Google and his Chinese counterparts have proved to be no help in identifying them.

I haven't eaten any yet, but they have a strong mushroom scent. After soaking the dried mushrooms the soaking water has a distinct green tinge.

Anyway, here they are dried

Conifermushrooms.jpg

and here are a few rehydrated

Conifermushrooms2.jpg


Edited by liuzhou (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent work. I use the king oyster mushroom a lot for stir-fries. They brown up real nicely.

Wood ear and golden needle I like to put into kaofu (Shanghai wheat gluten dish).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In post #2, I mentioned bamboo pith fungus. What I failed to mention was that these come in two forms. There are the adult mushrooms with their lace-like veil

800px-Bamboo_pith_mushroom.jpg

but the immature fruiting bodies are egg shaped and are sold as "bamboo fungus eggs" (竹荪蛋 zhú sūn dàn).

BambooFungusEggs.jpg

These are soaked in hot water for half an hour, then braised, fried or used in soups.

(P.S. I'm still working on the 48 mushroom menu translation. Soon, I hope.)


Edited by liuzhou (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The 48 mushroom menu from my local restaurant turned out to have only 41 mushrooms on it. Here they are. Those in red are some which I haven't been able to positively identify, but have given a somewhat literal translations instead. If anyone can elucidate, I will be delighted.

junlintianxia1Large.jpg

羊肚菌 Morel

松茸 Matsutake Mushroom

黄金菇 Golden Oyster Mushroom

竹荪 Bamboo Fungus

鸡油菌 Chanterelle

老人头 Portobello Mushroom

猴头菇 Monkey Head Mushroom

美味牛肝片 Porcini Pieces

白牛肝 White Bolete, King Bolete

鸡枞菌 Termite Mushroom

金喇叭带 Girolle

橙盖鹅膏 Caesar's Mushroom (Amanita Caesarea)

百灵菇嫩 Lark Mushroom

鲍鱼菌 Abalone Mushroom

姬松茸 Almond Mushroom (Agaricus subrufescens)

蜜环菌 Honey Agaric

冷杉菇 Fir Mushroom

珊瑚菌、有药效功效 Coral Mushroom

青杠菌 Tricholoma quercicola Zang

球盖菌 Burgundy Mushroom (Stropharia rugosoannulata)

松毛菌 (美容菌) Thelehhora ganhajun Zang (Beauty Mushroom)

黑牛肝 Black Boletus

金丝蘑菇 Golden Thread Mushroom

小黄菌 Small Yellow Mushroom

黄牛肝 Yellow Boletus

黑虎掌 Black Tiger Paw Mushroom (Sarcodon Aspratus)

茶树菇 Tea Tree Mushroom

鱼肚菌 Fish Maw Mushroom

雪山菇 Snow Mountain Mushroom

鸭掌菌 Duck Web Mushroom

姬平菇 Oyster Mushroom

小白侧 White Oyster Mushroom

冬瓜菌 Shaggy Ink Cap (Coprinus comatus)

玉黄菌 Jade Mushroom (Russula virescens)

红乳牛肝 Boletinus asiaticus

白乳牛肝 Milk Boletus

马蹄菌 Horse's Hoof Mushroom

海鲜菇 Shimeji (Beech Mushroom)

见手青 Boletus speciosus

草菇 Straw Mushroom

野生香菇带 Wild Shiitake


Edited by liuzhou (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I came across these today.

Known as 元蘑 (yuán mó) in Chinese, they are the highly rated "Honey Mushrooms" (Armillaria mellea). They have been compressed and dried (or vice versa) into little tablets measuring 2½ x 1½ x ¼ inches. The packaging suggests stewing them with chicken or "meat". They shouldn't be eaten raw as they are slightly poisonous when uncooked.

This block is soaking now, just to the side of my computer desk, and the smell is amazing.

compresedhoneymushroom.jpg


Edited by liuzhou (log)
1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for doing this whole topic. It has been fascinating.

dcarch

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is brilliant! What did those honey mushrooms smell and taste like, how did you use them, and where were they grown?


@MadameHuang & madamehuang.com & ZesterDaily.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The honey mushrooms are from Daxinganling (大兴安岭) in China's Heilongjiang province. It is a forested area on the border with Russia. The annual average temperature is minus 2.8C (27F)and in the long winters get as low as minus 40C (minus 40F). Summer is a mere two months long. The area is known for its mushrooms and other wild foods.

When soaking, the mushrooms have a distinct earthy smell, but the taste is more subtle. Not so pronounced as cepes, but up there with morels and chanterelles.

I've used them in stews with chicken, in a mixed mushroom stir fry and had them in soups.

Here is what happens when I soak the compressed block in hot water.

honeymushrfoomsoaking.jpg

And the final reconstituted mushrooms.

honeymushroom.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh wow, that looks so delicious, and the photos are great! Do you know whether they ever available outside of China?


@MadameHuang & madamehuang.com & ZesterDaily.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, I'm in heaven. Thank you so much!


@MadameHuang & madamehuang.com & ZesterDaily.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Today I came across these big fellows.

This is a giant flower mushroom (大花菇 dà huā gū) - a shiitake considerably larger those normally available.

LargeFlowerMushroom1.jpg

LargeFlowerMushroom2.jpg

Interestingly, they were also considerably cheaper than regular "flower" mushrooms". At ¥60 per 500g as opposed to around ¥100 per 500g for the regular sort. Also, these were supposedly imported from Japan, so the price difference seems even greater.

It seems the little ones are more highly prized.


Edited by liuzhou (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Similar Content

    • By Soul_Venom
      The best Chinese food restaurant I have ever been to is a place called the Imperial Buffet in Aberdeen SD. Their General Tso's is unlike the Tso's anywhere else. The closes comparison I could make is the Orange Chicken at the Panda Garden only 3x better. Their Lo-Mein Noodles are done with the skill of a master Italian pasta chef & perfectly seasoned. They also used to do a mean fried squid. I say used to because they had it when I lived in Aberdeen from 02-04 but didn't when I visited in 15'. One of their other discontinued specialties was a dish advertised as 'Golden Fried Cauliflower'. Note, this was NOT a breaded product. The cauliflower was cooked as though it had been boiled perfectly. It was not greasy as I recall but was a golden orange color as was the sauce it was evidently cooked in. I never could identify the flavors in that sauce. I wish I could describe it better but it has been well over a decade since I had it. Is anyone familiar with it or something similar? I can't seem to find anything like it online & all my searches just bring up links to breaded deep-fried crap.
    • By liuzhou
      An old friend from England contacted me yesterday via Facebook with a couple of questions about Five Spice Powder.

      Thought there me be some interest here, too.

      Is there anything more typically Chinese than five spice powder (五香粉 - wǔ xiāng fěn)?
       
      Well, yes. A lot.
       
      Many years ago, I worked in an office overlooking London’s China town. By around 11 am, the restaurants started getting lunch ready and the smell of FSP blanketed the area for the rest of the day. When I moved to China, I didn’t smell that. Only when I first visited Hong Kong, did I find that smell again.
       
      In fact, FSP is relatively uncommon in most of Chinese cuisine. And if I ever see another internet recipe called “Chinese” whatever, which is actually any random food, but the genius behind it has added FSP, supposedly rendering it Chinese, I’ll scream.

      I get all sorts of smells wafting through the neighbourhood. Some mouth-watering; some horrifying. But I don't recall ever that they were FSP.
       
      But what is it anyway? Which five spices?
       
      Today, I bought four samples in four local supermarkets. I would have would have preferred five, but couldn’t find any more. It's not that popular.
       
      First thing to say: none of them had five spices. All had more. That is normal. Numbers in Chinese can often be vague. Every time you hear a number, silently added the word ‘about’ or ‘approximately’. 100 km means “far”, 10,000 means “many”.
       
      Second, while there are some common factors, ingredients can vary quite a bit. Here are my four.

      1.


       
      Ingredients – 7
       
      Star Anise, Fennel Seed, Orange Peel, Cassia Bark, Sand Ginger, Dried Ginger, Sichuan Peppercorns.
       
      2.
       

       
      Ingredients – 6
       
      Cassia Bark, Star Anise, Fennel Seed, Coriander, Sichuan Peppercorn, Licorice Root.

      3.
       

       
      Ingredients – 15
       
      Fennel Seeds, Sichuan Peppercorns, Coriander, Tangerine Peel, Star Anise, Chinese Haw, Cassia Bark, Lesser Galangal, Dahurian Angelica, Nutmeg, Dried Ginger, Black Pepper, Amomum Villosum, Cumin Seeds, Cloves.

      4.
       

       
      Ingredients – 6
       
      Pepper (unspecified – probably black pepper), Sichuan Peppercorns, Star Anise, Fennel Seeds, Nutmeg, Cassia.
       
      So, take your pick. They all taste and smell almost overwhelmingly of the star anise and cassia, although there are subtle differences in taste in the various mixes.
       
      But I don’t expect to find it in many dishes in local restaurants or homes. A quick, unscientific poll of about ten friends today revealed that not one has any at home, nor have they ever used the stuff!
       
       
      I'm not suggesting that FSP shouldn't be used outside of Chinese food. Please just don't call the results Chinese when you sprinkle it on your fish and chips or whatever. They haven't miraculously become Chinese!

      Like my neighbours and friends, I very rarely use it at all.

      In fact, I'd be delighted to hear how it is used in other cultures / cuisines.
    • By liuzhou
      For the last several years Cindy's* job has been to look after me. She takes care of my residence papers, my health insurance, my travel, my housing and associated repairs. She makes sure that I am supplied with sufficient cold beer at official banquets. And she does it all with terrific efficiency and great humour.
       
      This weekend she held her wedding banquet.
       
      Unlike in the west, this isn't held immediately after the marriage is formalised. In fact, she was legally married months ago. But the banquet is the symbolic, public declaration and not the soul-less civil servant stamping of papers that the legal part entails.
      So tonight, along with a few hundred other people, I rolled up to a local hotel at the appointed time. In my pocket was my 'hong bao' or red envelope in which I had deposited a suitable cash gift. That is the Chinese wedding gift protocol. You don't get 12 pop-up toasters here.
       
      I handed it over, then settled down, at a table with colleagues, to a 17 or 18 course dinner.
       
      Before we started, I spotted this red bedecked jar. Shaking, poking and sniffing revealed nothing.
       
       
      A few minutes later, a waitress turned up and opened and emptied the jar into a serving dish. Spicy pickled vegetables. Very vinegary, very hot, and very addictive. Allegedly pickled on the premises, this was just to amuse us as we waited for the real stuff to arrive.
       
       
      Then the serious stuff arrived. When I said 17 courses, I really meant 17 dishes. Chinese cuisine doesn't really do courses. Every thing is served at roughly the same time. But we had:
       
      Quail soup which I neglected to photograph.
       
      Roast duck
       
      Braised turtle
       
      Sticky rice with beef (the beef is lurking underneath)
       
      Steamed chicken
       
      Spicy, crispy shell-on prawns.
       
      Steamed pork belly slices with sliced taro
       
      Spicy squid
       
      Noodles
       
      Chinese Charcuterie (including ducks jaws (left) and duck hearts (right))
       
      Mixed vegetables
       
      Fish
       
      Cakes
       
      Fertility soup! This allegedly increases your fertility and ensures the first born (in China, only born) is a son. Why they are serving to me is anyone's guess. It would make more sense for the happy couple to drink the lot.
       
      Greenery
       
      Jiaozi
       
      There was a final serving of quartered oranges, but I guess you have seen pictures of oranges before.
       
      The happy couple. I wish them well.
       
      *Cindy is the English name she has adopted. Her Chinese name is more than usually difficult to pronounce. Many Chinese friends consider it a real tongue-twister.
    • By liuzhou
      A few days ago, I was given a lovely gift. A big jar of preserved lemons.
       
      I know Moroccan preserved lemons, but had never met Chinese ones. In fact, apart from in the south, in many parts of China it isn't that easy to find lemons, at all.
       
      These are apparently a speciality of the southern Zhuang minority of Wuming County near Nanning. The Zhuang people are the largest ethnic minority in China and most live in Guangxi. These preserved lemons feature in their diet and are usually eaten with congee (rice porridge). Lemon Duck is a local speciality and they are also served with fish. They can be served as a relish, too. They are related to the Vietnamese Chanh muối.
       
      I'm told that these particular lemons have been soaking in salt and lemon juice for eleven years!
       

       

       
      So, of course, you want to know what they taste like. Incredibly lemony. Concentrated lemonness. Sour, but not unpleasantly so. Also a sort of smoky flavour.
       
      The following was provided by my dear friend 马芬洲 (Ma Fen Zhou) who is herself Zhuang. It is posted with her permission.
       
      How to Make Zhuang Preserved Lemons
      By 马芬洲
       
      Zhuang preserved lemons is a kind of common food for the southern Zhuang ethnic minority who live around Nanning Prefecture of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in China. The Zhuang people like to make it as a relish for eating with congee or congee with corn powder. This relish is a mixture of chopped preserved lemons, red chilli and garlic or ginger slice in soy sauce and peanut oil or sesame oil.
       

       
      Sometimes the Zhuang people use preserved lemons as an ingredient in cooking. The most famous Zhuang food in Guangxi is Lemon Duck, which is a common home cooked dish in Wuming County, which belongs to Nanning Prefecture.
       
      The following steps show you how to make Zhuang preserved lemons.
       
      Step 1 Shopping
      Buy some green lemons.
       
      Step 2 Cleaning
      Wash green lemons.
       
      Step 3 Sunning
      Leave green lemons under the sunshine till it gets dry.
       
      Step 4 Salting
      If you salt 5kg green lemons, mix 0.25kg salt with green lemons. Keep the salted green lemons in a transparent jar. The jar must be well sealed. Leave the jar under the sunshine till the salted green lemons turn yellow. For example, leave it on the balcony. Maybe it will take months to wait for those salted green lemons to turn yellow. Later, get the jar of salted yellow lemons back. Unseal the jar. Then cover 1kg salt over the salted yellow lemons. Seal well the jar again.
       
      Step 5 Preserving
      Keep the sealed jar of salted yellow lemons at least 3 years. And the colour of salted yellow lemons will turn brown day by day. It can be dark brown later. The longer you keep preserved lemons, the better taste it is. If you eat it earlier than 2 years, it will taste bitter. After 3 years, it can be unsealed. Please use clean chopsticks to pick it. Don’t use oily chopsticks, or the oil will make preserved lemons go bad. Remember to seal the jar well after picking preserved lemons every time.
    • By liuzhou
      Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in southern China, where I live, is sugar central for the country. Over two-thirds of China's output of sugar is grown right here, making it one of the largest sugar production areas on the planet. I have a second home in the countryside and it is surrounded by sugar cane fields.

      Much of this is produced by small time farmers, although huge Chinese and international companies have also moved in.
       
      Also, sugar is used extensively in Chinese cooking, not only as a sweetener, but more as a spice. A little added to a savoury dish can bring out otherwise hidden flavours. It also has medicinal attributes according to traditional Chinese medicine.
       
      Supermarkets have what was to me, on first sight, a huge range of sugars, some almost unrecognisable. Here is a brief introduction to some of them. Most sugar is sold loose, although corner shops and mom 'n pop stores may have pre-packed bags. These are often labelled in English as "candy", the Chinese language not differentiating between "sugar" and "candy" - always a source of confusion. Both are 糖 (táng),

      IMPORTANT NOTE: The Chinese names given here and in the images are the names most used locally. They are all Mandarin Chinese, but it is still possible that other names may be used elsewhere in China. Certainly, non-Mandarin speaking areas will be different.

      By the far the simplest way to get your sugar ration is to buy the unprocessed sugar cane. This is not usually available in supermarkets but is a street vendor speciality. In the countryside, you can buy it at the roadside. There are also people in markets etc with portable juice extractors who will sell you a cup of pure sugar cane juice.


       
      I remember being baffled then amused when, soon after I first arrived in China, someone asked me if I wanted some 甘蔗 (gān zhè). It sounded exactly like 'ganja' or cannabis. No such luck! 甘蔗 (gān zhè) is 'sugar cane'.
       
      The most common sugar in the supermarkets seems to be 冰糖 (bīng táng) which literally means 'ice 'sugar' and is what we tend to call 'rock sugar' or 'crystal sugar'. This highly refined sugar comes in various lump sizes although the price remains the same no matter if the pieces are large or small. Around ¥7/500g. That pictured below features the smaller end of the range.


       
      Related to this is what is known as 冰片糖 (bīng piàn táng) which literally means "ice slice sugar". This is usually slightly less processed (although I have seen a white version, but not recently) and is usually a pale brown to yellow colour. This may be from unprocessed cane sugar extract, but is often white sugar coloured and flavoured with added molasses. It is also sometimes called 黄片糖  (huáng piàn táng) or "yellow slice sugar". ¥6.20/500g.
       


      A less refined, much darker version is known as 红片糖 (hóng piàn táng), literally 'red slice sugar'. (Chinese seems to classify colours differently - what we know as 'black tea' is 'red tea' here. ¥7.20/500g.


       
      Of course, what we probably think of as regular sugar, granulated sugar is also available. Known as 白砂糖 (bái shā táng), literally "white sand sugar', it is the cheapest at  ¥3.88/500g.



      A brown powdered sugar is also common, but again, in Chinese, it isn't brown. It's red and simply known as 红糖 (hóng táng). ¥7.70/500g


       
      Enough sweetness and light for now. More to come tomorrow.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.