Fungus Among Us

In food on 05/06/2011 at 7:03 pm

I don’t cook with recipes. Sure, I read a lot of cookbooks of all sorts, but what I do is try to understand the basic flavor profiles of different cuisines. At the head of my list is Vietnamese and Mexican (besides my own, Taiwanese, of course). After eating at Ayada Thai and Karma Kafe though, Thai and Indian are sneaking up. Spicy, fishy and tangy are my top palate-pleasers.

Usually I look to see what I can work with in the pantry, and pair it with a meat in the freezer. Today I found my dismantled mess on the floor due to the impending move and saw two dried fungi, white and black. Traditionally, black woodear mushroom is used for savory soups and stir-fries, while white fungus is found in a dessert soup, made with mormordica (luo han guo – a natural sweetener) and dried lychee.

I decided to rehydrate both and stir fry them with caramelized onions, along with a mackerel. Fungus has no flavor, so it pairs well with pungent ingredients. Add a dash of fish sauce, salt and pepper, or shrimp sauce, ginger, curry powder, the sky’s the limit.

I was pleasantly surprised when the white fungus turned out to the more QQ than the black, which is on the crunchy side. To round out the meal, I topped my concoction over sushi rice (normal short grain rice mixed with apple cider vinegar and sugar). The other half agrees that this ‘poor man’s truffle’ ensemble was delicious.

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