kake: The word "菜單" (Chinese for "menu") in various shades of purple. (菜單)
[personal profile] kake
A small white dish with fluted edges holds a mound of wood ear (a dark brown jelly fungus) flecked with bits of red chilli.  A sprig of coriander sits on top.

As regular readers will know, I am quite a fan of Chinese cold dishes. One that I order often is 涼拌木耳 (liáng bàn mù ěr), a dish of marinated black fungus, sometimes spicy, sometimes enlivened with a hint of Chinese black vinegar, sometimes both.

There are many variations of this dish, and many different names. I mentioned a few of the names I've seen on Wednesday, but others include 美味野生木耳 (měi wèi yě shēng mù ěr), literally "delicious wild wood ear fungus", and 爽口木耳 (shuǎng kǒu mù ěr), literally "tasty and refreshing wood ear fungus".

I couldn’t find a recipe in English for this, but I tried Google Translate on a few Chinese-language ones I found, and boiling the 木耳 seemed to be the way to go. I reconstituted the dried fungus by soaking in warm water for 30 minutes, then boiled it for 5 minutes (which was possibly a minute or two too long), then dressed it with black Chinese vinegar, a little bit of sugar to balance the vinegar, a splash of soy sauce, and some home-made chilli oil. I’d have added sesame oil too, but I'd run out.

It's worth noting that this fungus expands enormously when soaked, so even a smallish bag of it will feed many, many people. I used 20g of dried black fungus, which after soaking increased in weight to nearly 250g!

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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