Apr. 13th, 2011

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

Like last week's character, 心 (xīn/heart), 耳 (ěr/ear) is used on menus both to describe the relevant part of an animal (usually pig/豬/zhū) and in the names of certain vegetables.

This time, though, the vegetables are not leafy greens but rather various edible fungi. I'm not actually sure how many different types of these exist, though the most common Chinese names I see are 木耳 (mù ěr), 銀耳 (yín ěr), 雪耳 (xuě ěr), and 雲耳 (yún ěr). English names include "wood ear", "tree ear", "cloud ear", and "black fungus". There are at least two distinct types of fungi used in Chinese cuisines, one black and one lighter in colour, but I'm still a bit confused about which names go with which fungus. The one I'm most familiar with is the black one, which is sold dried, and corresponds to (at least) 木耳, "wood ear", "tree ear", and "black fungus".

Edit: [personal profile] pulchritude sets me straight in comments: there are two types of black fungus. One is quite large, has a brown back that looks fuzzy when dry, and is usually labelled as 木耳. The other is smaller and softer, and is usually labelled as 雲耳.

I've also seen 耳 used in the name of a Sichuan snack, 葉耳耙 (yè ěr pá). I ate this at Shu Castle on the Old Kent Road in London, where it was translated as "lotus leaf harrow"; I'm not entirely sure of the role 耳 plays in this name, but 葉 is "leaf" and 耙 is "rake" or "harrow".

Here are some dishes with 耳 in the name:

紅油耳片hóng yóu ěr piànsliced [片] pig's ear [耳] in chilli oil [紅油/"red oil"]
紅油耳絲hóng yóu ěr sīshredded [絲] pig's ear in chilli oil (this is essentially the same as the above; other names include 紅油豬耳/hóng yóu zhū ěr, which makes the "pig" part explicit)
豬耳朵干豆腐絲zhū ěr duǒ gān dòu fu sīpig's ear [豬耳朵] with shredded [絲] dry [乾] tofu [豆腐] (朵 means "earlobe")
麻辣木耳má là mù ěrnumbing-spicy wood ear fungus
尖椒木耳jiān jiāo mù ěrwood ear fungus with chillies
木耳肉片mù ěr ròu piànsliced [片] pork [肉] with wood ear fungus
耳: ěr radical 128 (耳) Cantodict MandarinTools YellowBridge Zhongwen

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.


December 2012


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