Wood ear, cloud ear, tree ear, black fungus
Traditional Chinese Name:
木耳 (mu er)
- Lowers blood pressure and alleviates hypertension
- Tonifies and nourishes blood and Qi
- Moistens lungs and eliminates cough
Here’s how to build your “Basic Chinese Soup Pantry“
This is one of those ingredients that is definitely an acquired taste and appreciation. As a young girl, anything black and strange looking is something that I don’t touch or explore, but as I got older and tried the in soups, stews, dishes, and appetizers, I have grown into a beautiful fondness for this wood ear fungus!
The wood ear is an edible fungus that is used in Chinese and other Asian cuisines, but more western cuisines recently. It’s often found in soups, stews, sitr-frys (with other vegetables), vegetarian dishes, and appetizers (taken cold and often soaked in a vinaigrette).
It has a light, earthy flavor and a slightly crunchy, spongy texture and never seems to get completely soft (which makes it such a great ingredient because it doesn’t disappear!). When cooked with other ingredients, it is great at absorbing the flavors around it.
How do I prepare it?
- Soak for at least 30 minutes in warm water (it will expand to many times it’s original size)
- Trim any tough or gritty parts off
- Rinse and it is ready for use
- Here’s a video on preparing a wood ear appetizer and you can follow how to prepare wood ear
Where can I buy it and cost?
- You normally buy wood ear fungus as dehydrated hard mushrooms, that come in a dark brown or black colour (with some some silver linings in some breeds)
- Depending on the breed, it comes in all various sizes (some as small as quarters and as big as the size of your palm)
- You can purchase these from most Asian supermarkets prepackaged
- You can also purchase this in bulk from specialty stores (online herbal shops) – both loose and prepackaged
- Be sure that you’re buying from a reputable source
- The cost of wood ear fungus is not very expensive. A 150g bag can cost around $11 HKD or around $3 CAD.
How to prepare it?
- The most basic way to prepare wood ear mushroom is to rinse under cool water to rinse off any dirt, preservatives
- Soak them fully in cool water (fully submerged)
- You’ll know they’re fully hydrated and ready to use when they feel slightly squishy, but can fold and bounce back into its hydrated shape
- And if you can slice with a knife through the wood ear, it’s fully hydrated
- Wood ear is one of the key ingredients from my herbalist and Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor to support lowering and managing blood pressure as well as alleviating hypertension
- Helps tonify and nourish the blood and Qi
- Targets, moistens, and supports the health of the lungs
- Helps relieve cough (especially long-term cough)
- Is also a good source of collagen and anti-aging
Generally safe for consumption
- They aren’t the easiest to digest
Looking to build your basic Chinese Soup Pantry?
Check it out in my video to learn more!