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Mushrooms and Fungi in China

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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)
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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.




What advantage would there be in soaking in cold water?

Edited by liuzhou (log)

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.


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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?

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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.

Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

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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.

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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.

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Another commonly available fresh mushroom is the Jade Gill Mushroom (海鲜菇 hǎi xiān gū, literally "seafood mushroom") or Crab Flavour Mushrooms (蟹味菇 xiè wèi gū). 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.



Edited by liuzhou (log)

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.


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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

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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!



Edited by liuzhou (log)

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.


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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




and here are a few rehydrated



Edited by liuzhou (log)

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.


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They remind me Slippery Jacks


I'm fairly certain they aren't. They don't match the description or the pictures in that article or this one.

"It is slimy to the touch, bare, smooth, and glossy even when dry ..." The ones I'm looking at aren't.

Edited by liuzhou (log)

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.


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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




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




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)

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.


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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.




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)

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.


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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.


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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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 gets 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 cèpes, 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.




And the final reconstituted mushrooms.



Edited by liuzhou (log)

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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.



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)

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