kake: The word "菜單" (Chinese for "menu") in various shades of purple. (菜單)
[personal profile] kake

One particularly tasty type of Chinese mushroom is 茶樹菇 (chá shù gū), also known as tea tree mushroom or Agrocybe aegerita. I posted about 菇 (gū/mushroom) earlier this week, and have also previously posted about 茶 (chá/tea). 樹 (shù/tree) frequently appears on menus in the form of 螞蟻上樹 (mǎ yǐ shàng shù), or "ants climbing a tree".

Although tea tree mushrooms are available fresh in some parts of the world, I've only ever seen them dried in London (at New Loon Moon in Chinatown). The dried ones are still tasty, though the stems of the larger ones can be a bit hard even after soaking — one tip I've heard for using up the tougher stems is to pop them in a bag in the freezer and throw them in next time you make stock, for a bit of extra flavour.

茶樹菇 are good in soup, in stir-fried dishes, and in 火鍋 (huǒ guō/hotpot/steamboat) (photo of some prepared for hotpot). Pictured above is a rather good stirfry of 茶樹菇 and 臘肉 (là ròu/Chinese ham) that I ate at Chilli Cool in Bloomsbury and later tried to recreate at home.

I based my attempt on a recipe from Beijing Haochi, though I left out the greens as I was doing a separate leafy greens dish in the same meal. There was plenty of flavour from the mushrooms and ham alone, but I did also add a bit of Shaoxing wine and soy sauce.

I didn't use an expensive ham — I've tried finding Yunnan ham in London, but as yet have had no success, so I just used some cheap 臘肉 that I found at Loon Fung in Silvertown. If you feel adventurous, you could also try making your own!

If you have any questions or corrections, please leave a comment (here's how) and let me know (or email me at kake@earth.li). See my introductory post to the Chinese menu project for what these posts are all about.

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