Wood ear mushrooms are also called cows ear fungus, cows ear, jelly ear, Judas Ear, Jews Ear or wood ear. Wood ear mushrooms usually grow on elder trees. Wood ear mushrooms do have medicinal health benefits. Wood ear mushrooms help the lungs to breath freely and they have anti aging properties. Wood ear mushrooms lower cholesterol levels, they are an anti coagulant and the help to control hypoglycemia associated with diabetes. Sore eyes and throat irritations are a couple more things that wood ear mushrooms help to cure. Wood ear mushrooms are very nutritious. In China, wood ear mushrooms are often referred to as meat!
Wood ear mushrooms grow wild in temperate areas worldwide. They are rather easy to find in a deep humid forest and I have found them many times. Like all wild mushrooms, it is best to have an identification book handy, because several other tree growing mushrooms look like wood ear mushrooms. Wood ear mushrooms are available dried or fresh at most asian markets and they can be found dried at most grocery stores.
Enoki mushrooms are nice tasting and healthy too. Enoki are thin delicate mushrooms that have shiitake-like health benefits. Enoki have anti aging properties as well as immune system boosting properties. Enoki can be found fresh at asian markets and good grocery stores. Wild dried enoki are called golden mushrooms. Wild dried enoki have a little bit more flavor than domestic fresh enoki and the medicinal health benefits also increase. Wild dried enoki or golden mushrooms look like golden straw when dried.
I spent more than 10 years studying and collecting wild mushroom when I was younger. I read volumes of mushroom identification books, before I collected my first wild mushrooms. The Audubon mushroom identification books have clear photographs and descriptions, but like all mushroom identification books, there are a few errors. Some mushrooms in every mushroom identification guide seem to be misidentified or mislabeled, so it is best to cross reference when doing research.
An understanding of the latin language makes mushroom identification much easier. Most scientific mushroom names are written in latin and they are descriptive. Not every mushroom is in the books! I have discovered many wild mushrooms that have never been identified. If you are not sure about the identity of a wild mushroom, then never assume that it is edible! Wild mushrooms can contain some of the strongest deadly toxins known, so never take risks!
This recipe makes 1 bowl of soup!
Wood Ear Mushroom Preparation:
Place about 4 to 6 dried wood ear mushrooms in a bowl with 4 cups of water. (Wood ear mushrooms look thin and small when dried, but they swell up to become a large size after soaking!)
Soak the wood ear mushrooms in a refrigerator overnight.
Slice the reconstituted wood ear mushrooms into thin strips.
Set the wood ear mushroom strips aside.
Place 2 3/4 cups of water in a sauce pot.
Bring the water to a boil over high heat.
Add 1 small handful of sun dried anchovies. (Iriko or ikan bilis are other names for sun dried anchovies!)
Add 1 handful of chopped soaked kombu seaweed or rinsed salt packed wakame seaweed.
Boil the dashi broth for 10 minutes. (The volume of the liquid should reduce to the size of one bowl of soup after boiling for 10 minutes.)
Pour the dashi broth through a fine mesh strainer into a second sauce pot.
Wood Ear Mushroom and Enoki Miso Soup:
Place the sauce pot over medium low heat.
Add the reserved wood ear mushroom strips.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced ginger.
Add 1/2 of a minced garlic clove.
Add 1/4 teaspoon of soy sauce.
Add 3 or 4 drops of sesame oil.
Add sea salt and white pepper.
Simmer the mushrooms in the dashi broth for 5 minutes.
Add 1 tablespoon of miso paste while stirring with a whisk.
Simmer and stir the soup for one minute.
Ladle the miso soup into a shallow soup bowl.
Place small bunch of trimmed raw enoki mushrooms on one side of the soup.
Place small bunch of mung bean sprouts on the other side of the soup.
Sprinkle some very thin sliced green onion on top of the soup.
Place a little bit of pickled wakame seaweed salad (chuka kuki wakame) on the middle of the soup. (Pre-made pickled seaweed salad is available in asian markets. It is usually vacuum packed.)
This is a nice tasting miso soup! Wood ear fungus is a mushroom that grows on certain trees. It has a very interesting texture and it has a very mild agreeable flavor. Yummy and healthy! ... Shawna