Dried Mushrooms, Cloud Ear (wood Ears, Tree Ears) and Dried Shiitake
Harvested from fallen trees, the highly esteemed fungi known as Wood Ear, Cloud Ear or Champignon Noir are actually light to dark brown in colour – a small and crinkly dried fungus, and said to be beneficial for the blood and circulatory system. Their succulent cartilaginous texture and smoky flavour when rehydrated make them great additions to many savoury dishes and stocks.
There are many grades of these mushrooms, the most popular are the large light brown ones with cracked surfaces. They need to be rinsed and soaked in hot water for 20 minutes to rehydrate them – they swell to triple their size. Once softened, remove the tough stalks and use the caps only. Slice or chop to add to other dishes. Save the soaking water for use in stocks and soups.
This Chinese ingredient is also used in some Thai dishes for its texture.
Other dried mushrooms used by the Chinese and others (e.g. Japanese) are shiitake mushrooms. They have a flavour that is more intense than fresh shiitake. These also need to be rinsed and soaked before use.
Store dried mushrooms in a cool dry place in an airtight container. Stored in its dried form, it will keep indefinitely, or you can freeze them if you don’t use them often.
From the A Note On Series
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- Ingredients: A Note on Fermented Blackbeans
- Spices: A small Note on Candlenuts, Balinese Ingredient
- Spices: A Note on Cardamom – Green, Black and White