Kikurage is a type of edible mushroom and is a popular condiment in Japanese ramen noodles. It is also commonly known as wood ear mushroom, black fungus, jelly ear, jew’s ear, and Mu Er in Chinese. Known for its nutritious value, below are a few easy recipes and how to prepare the cloud ear mushroom.
The edible mushroom gets its name from resembling the shape of an ear. Kikurage has a smooth surface on both sides and is dark brown in colour. Raw wood ear mushrooms carry a light woody fragrance. Once cooked, the mushroom is gelatinous and easily absorbs the flavours in the dish.
Widely consumed in Japan and China, it is often eaten cold in a salad, or cut into matchsticks and served in ramen.
How to prepare kikurage?
To rehydrate wood ear mushroom, soak the desired amount in cold water for 1 to 2 hours. The wild mushrooms can expand 3-4 times in size.
For faster results, soak the dried kikurage in warm water for 20 minutes. However, the mushrooms will not expand as much and will be less crunchy. Once rehydrated, store in the fridge and consume within 1-2 days.
Chinese Wood Ear Mushroom Salad
- 1 cup of Wood Ear Mushroom
- 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon of vinegar
- 3 cloves of garlic
- ½ tablespoon of Oyster sauce
- 1 – 2 Red or green chili (optional)
- 2 – 3 stalks of coriander (optional)
- Salt (optional)
- Boil the soaked mushrooms for about 2 minutes. After cooking, remove it and place it in cold water to cool.
- Grate the garlic into a paste and combine with sesame oil, vinegar, light soy sauce, and oyster sauce. Add chopped red chilli and salt to taste.
- Drain the mushrooms and mix with sauce. Garnish with sesame seeds, fresh chilli, or coriander.
Scrambled Eggs with Kikurage and Peppers
- 4 eggs
- 1 green pepper
- 1 cup of wood ear mushrooms
- ½ medium-sized onion
- 1 spoon of cooking wine
- 2 tablespoons of light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon of aged vinegar
- 1 spoon of oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
- Cut the green pepper into matchsticks and soak the wild mushroom in advance.
- Combine the light soy sauce, vinegar, oyster sauce, white sugar, cornstarch, and 2 tablespoons of water in a bowl and set aside.
- In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and add cooking wine.
- Heat the pan and sauté the garlic and onions.
- Add the egg mixture and stir-fry. Remove from heat when softly set. Set aside in a plate for later.
- Stir-fry the peppers and green peppers. Add the scrambled eggs and sauce mixture. Leave to simmer for 2-3 minutes before serving.
Health Benefits of Wood Ear Mushroom
Black Fungus is low in calories, fat content, and high in fibre. The wild mushroom is packed with antioxidants and has high iron content. Kikurage can improve iron deficiency, reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol levels, and promote gut health.
In traditional Chinese medicine, black fungus is believed to have immune-enhancing and antimicrobial properties.
One piece of Kikurage contains: Serving: 4.5g | Calories: 12.8kcal | Carbohydrates: 3.28g | Protein: 0.4g | Fat: 0g | Saturated Fat: 0g | Sodium: 1.6mg | Potassium: 33.9mg | Fiber: 3.15g
Where to buy Wood Ear Mushroom?
You will often find dried kikurage in Asian supermarkets, which you will need to rehydrate before cooking. You can also find dried wood ear mushrooms online and in smaller packs.
There are two types of black fungus that are often eaten. One is the hairy black fungus that has a smooth inner surface that presents a dark brown colour; with an outer surface that’s grey or greyish brown. The other is the wood ear mushroom, which is more commonly seen on the market.
The hairy black fungus is larger in size, but the texture is rough and it’s not easy to chew. Meanwhile, the wood ear mushrooms are softer, easier to chew, and refreshing.
For more uncommon vegetables, see our guide on mooli, a white radish.