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Mystery Ingredients


liuzhou
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On 10/22/2016 at 5:06 AM, liuzhou said:

Onions? No.

 

But something within the allium genus, yes?

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

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I'm going to apologise, then give you the answer.

 

I have learned that importation of this vegetable is prohibited in the USA where most of you are. I had assumed that someone might have come across it, but it now seems unlikely. So sorry, to give you something so obscure.

I'm not sure what to call this. A number of resources label it as "Manchurian wild rice stems", but Manchuria as a name is anathema to most Chinese as it refers to the puppet state set up by the Japanese invaders in the 1930s. The area is known to the Chinese as 东北 (dōng běi - "north-east" or literally "east-north"), so I'm going with Dongbei Wild Rice Stems.

 

In Chinese, they go by many names, but the most common seems to be 胶笋 (jiāo sǔn) or 胶白 (jiāo bái) or even 胶白笋 (jiāo bái sǔn). They look a lot like bamboo shoots and have been called "water bamboo" in older English texts, but are totally unrelated to bamboo - despite the Chinese name including 笋 (sǔn), which usually refers to bamboo shoots. They are the stems of a wild rice plant, Zizania latiflora, once an important grain in China. Today the plant is virtually extinct in the wild and the grain is no longer eaten, but the stems are still cultivated as a vegetable.

 

The stems are infected by a fungus, Ustilago esculenta which causes the stems to swell into juicy tubers. These are peeled, sliced and usually stir fried, although it can be eaten raw. The vegetable retains a certain crispness when stir fried, a desirable quality in Chinese cuisine.

 

The importation of the stems to the USA is illegal as there are fears the fungus would spread to native wild rice varieties. It is classified as an invasive species in New Zealand.

Apologies again. Next time I'll make sure anything I post is at least slightly available in most territories.

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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A friend is a Native American whose family farms wild rice the traditional way. She sends me lots of wild rice every season. In doing research on how to cook with wild rice, I discovered that the "bamboo shoots" I had when I was in China were not bamboo, but wild rice stems. As I remember, it tasted closer to asparagus then to bamboo shoots.

 

I highly recommend it if you happen to be in China. Its a very delicious common seasonal vegetable.

 

A great mystery food item. Thanks, Liuzhou.

 

dcarch

 

 

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8 minutes ago, Duvel said:

Two fish fingers, slightly beyond their expiry date ?

 

They would also be the largest fish fingers ever. They are about 18 inches long.

 

18 minutes ago, caroled said:

It looks like you would grow mushrooms on it.

 


Yes! They are the growing medium for silver ear fungus (银耳 yín ěr) ( Tremella fuciformis or snow fungus, silver ear fungus or white jelly mushroom).
 

Here are two more which I arrived early enough to capture the next day. I'd never seen them that way in the shops before.

 

yin er (Medium).jpg

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On 10/23/2016 at 4:20 AM, jmacnaughtan said:

I would have said some kind of artichoke, or other flower bud.  But I'd probably be wrong.

 

I've got an interesting one.  Does anyone recognise this?

 

14590064_10154595369858926_5236134622812370247_o.jpg

 

I've never seen a grate-able formerly soft cheese before, unless I accidentally created it myself by forgetting about it in the cheese drawer.   

I'd guess its french ... ?

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1 hour ago, Kouign Aman said:

 

I've never seen a grate-able formerly soft cheese before, unless I accidentally created it myself by forgetting about it in the cheese drawer.   

I'd guess its french ... ?

 

It is.  It's extremely local - you don't actually find it anywhere outside of the region it's produced, possibly because it is rather... pungent.  It's called Brie Noir, and it's Brie that's been  aged for around a year.  It's an interesting cheese, but you need something pretty strong to wash it down with :)

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