Sunday, October 17, 2010

Types of Mushrooms Used in Chinese Cooking

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Types of Mushrooms Used in Chinese Cooking

Shiitake mushroom - credit:
Chinese Mushroom, also called Shiitake mushroom, Chinese black mushroom and forest mushroom (not to be confused with European dried mushrooms) are the most widely used mushrooms in Chinese cooking and are grown chiefly in China and Japan. Their fleshy caps are dense, and their stems are tough yet can be used for flavoring before being discarded. Shiitakes can easily replace other mushrooms in recipes. They have a pleasant flavor and absorb the taste of other ingredients. Chinese mushrooms are often sold dried and will keep for up to a year. Rinse well, then soak in hot water for at least 30 minutes. The soaking water can be strained and used to add flavor to a stock. Recipe: Bamboo Shoots with Chinese Mushrooms.

Agaricus mushroom - credit:
Agaricus mushroom - Plump, dome-shaped mushrooms, ranging in size from small (button mushrooms) to big. The most widely cultivated and consumed mushroom, these common mushrooms have a mild and earthy flavor. Their color can range from white to pale brown, and their caps should be firm and evenly colored.

Straw Mushroom - This Asian mushroom gets its name from being cultivated on straw that has been used on a paddy. These grayish brown fungi are long with a conical cap over a bulbous stem, and have a mild flavor that makes a nice addition to Chinese dishes. They can sometimes be found fresh in specialty produce markets but are more readily available canned. Also known as paddy-straw mushrooms and grass mushrooms. Try this recipe - Straw Mushrooms with Broccoli.

Wood Ear Fungi - a popular ingredient in Szechuan cooking, wood ear, is also known as the tree ear, Jew's ear or cloud ear mushroom. It owes that name to its flat earlike shape. Its translucent brownish beige flesh is gelatinous but firm, crunchy and relatively tasteless. They absorb the liquid in which they are cooked and take on the taste of the other ingredients. Wood ears are often sold fresh in Asian specialty food stores. They are also available dried. Store fresh wood ears unwashed in the refrigerator. Although they keep for up to a month, it is best to use them within a week. To prepare for use in recipes, wash the fresh mushrooms quickly in cold water and remove the sticky parts. As for dried wood ears, soak them in warm water for ten minutes. Drain them, change the water, and let them soak for a further 10 to 15 minutes or until soft. They will expand to up to five times their initial dry size. Then rinse off any dirt carefully.

Snow fungus, also known as white tree ear fungus, silver fungus, and silver ear is quite similar to wood ear fungi but it is white in color and almost transparent. Good-quality snow fungus has a pale and yellowish-white color. It is often used in soups and desserts and believed to improve the complexion. Thy these recipes : Sweet and Sour Vegetarian & Snow Fungi Sweet Soup.

Enoki mushrooms - credit:
Enoki mushrooms - Also called golden needles mushroom are small white mushrooms that grow in clumps with long, thin stems topped with a tiny white cap and a mild, almost fruity flavor. They have a crisp, crunchy texture when fresh, but tend to become tough when heated; also known as velvet stem/shank, snow puff and golden mushrooms. The enoki mushroom is highly esteemed in Asia and figures prominently in various Chinese dishes.

Oyster mushrooms - A fan-shaped mushroom with white flesh and a gray to brown exterior. This soft, moist fungus has a peppery, robust flavor when raw, and is often used in salads. The flavor softens when cooked, and oyster mushrooms are a nice addition to casseroles, soups or stir-fried dishes. Available in some areas year-round, particularly in specialty produce and Asian markets; canned oyster mushrooms, which should be rinsed before using, are also available.


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