Monkey Head Mushroom

Ingredient Name: Monkey head mushroom, Hericium erinaceus, Lion’s mane mushroom, pom pom mushroom, bearded head mushroom

Chinese Name: 猴頭菇 (hóu tóu gū)

A very unique looking mushroom that is commonly used in Asia in soups.  I haven’t seen this product before (especially fresh) in North America, but there is the potential that it exists dried.  There are variants of this mushroom available in North America, I myself just hasn’t eaten it.  Obviously, I am not a big mushroom fan, haha, but this texture and taste is quite interesting.

What is this?
  • A type of mushroom in the fungus group that grows spines out of the tree (rather than a branch like most mushrooms)
  • Often beige in color when it is fresh (or raw) and when dried, it turns into a yellow-ish brown color
  • It’s texture is similar to that of a sponge
  • The monkey head mushroom is used to replace meat in vegetarian dishes (such as pork or beef)
  • It is considered a medicinal mushroom in Chinese Medicine
  • A rubbery and bouncy texture when boiled in soups and tasteless

How do I prepare it?

  • Soak in warm water before usage
  • Cut into slices or cubes (for eating) when cooked in soups

Where can I buy this?

  • Monkey head mushrooms can be purchased fresh or dried in Asian supermarkets and wet marts
  • It is a seasonal purchase and not always available

What is the cost?

  • A pack of 2 fresh monkey head mushrooms cost around $20 HKD

Any benefits?

  • Monkey head mushrooms are said to regulate blood lipid and and may reduce blood glucose levels

Any precautions?

  • It is considered a Chinese medicine and should be consumed in moderation as there is limited research on the ingredient

Any substitutes?

  • Other mushrooms such as the king trumpet mushroom (or king oyster  mushroom) with similar texture and taste

Picture of dried monkey head mushroom

Chicken Broth Mushroom Soup

Soup Name:  Chicken Broth Mushroom Soup

Traditional Chinese Name: 雞菇湯 (jī gū tāng)
When I’m feeling a little lazy but still want a warm chinese soup to enjoy with my dinner, I can quickly toss the ingredients of this soup into a pot of water with minimal fuss and, 90 minutes later, have a tasty soup ready to serve!   Using chinese mushrooms is an easy way to give a flavour boost to any simple, meat-based broths.  As a short cut, buy pre-cut chicken pieces from your local grocery store or butcher and rinse them under cold water before use.   Once I have drank the soup, I also enjoy eating the chicken meat dipped it in a little bit of soy sauce.

What Ingredients are required?
1 whole chicken (or chicken pieces)
20 pieces chinese mushrooms
2-3 L of water
Salt or soy to taste

How do I prepare it?

  1. If using a whole chicken, prepare the chicken and chop into pieces
  2. Pre-boil chicken pieces and rinse
  3. In the boiling soup water, add all the ingredients together
  4. Reduce to low heat and simmer for 60 – 90 minutes
  5. Scoop out residual oil with an oil scooper
  6. Serve and enjoy!

Any benefits?

  • Chicken is a great low-fat protein.  It is lower in calories, fats and saturated fats than most other meats
  • Chicken is extremely dense in nutrients, including protein, zinc, iron, phosphorous, riboflavin, thiamin and niacin
  • Using the whole chicken (bones and all) also include extra collagen
  • Easy to make and delicious!  

Agrocybe Aegerita (Fresh)

Ingredient Name:  Agrocybe Aegerita, Chinese mushrooms, Chestnut mushroom, Velvet pioppino, Black Poplar Mushroom (dried)

Traditional Chinese Name: 茶樹菇 (cha shu gu)

What is this?

  • This is a very popular, edible mushroom which can be found all over the world 
  • The agrocybe genus of mushroom is believed to be the first of its kind to be cultivated by man and today, is typically cultivated and sold in the East (Asia and Australia)
  • It has a rich, woodsy flavour which comes through when put into soups

How do I prepare it?

  • Wash thoroughly before use

Where can I buy this?

  • You can purchase this fresh from most Asian supermarkets
  • It is also available in Hong Kong wet marts

What is the cost?

  • The agrocybe aegerita is abundantly available and hence, is very affordable.  It costs less than $2 CAD for 100g

Any benefits?

  • In traditional chinese medicine, this ingredient is used to stengthen the stomach, nourish the spleen, and reinforce the kidneys
  • In western medicine, medical trials have shown this mushroom to also have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and anti-tumour properties
  • It also contains antifungal and antibiotic compounds