Sunday, December 16, 2007

Auricularia polytricha - a.k.a. the wood ear mushroom

today just a bit about auricularia polytricha also known as the wood ear mushroom, tree ear mushroom, cloud ear or black fungus*.

*(not the type of fungus that invades homes and gardens)

this is a culinary mushroom that i am particularly fond of. i like it's texture, it's ability to take on the flavor of the ingredients it's cooked with and it's flexibility in many types of dishes.

this morning i put together a simple wood ear sour creme spread. i was first introduced to this spread in finland. i spent time with a family who would often enjoy this spread on dry crackers in the morning as part of their breakfast meal.

i often observed the host's preparation process for various dishes. this one in particular caught my eye and has stayed with me though many years have since passed.
herbed wood ear mushroom spread

the ingredients are simple:
  • wood ear mushrooms - i use fresh
    • 1 or 2 handfuls chopped into small bits
    • wood ears are not so expensive
      • for me $1.14 for one handful
      • click the photo for an enlarged view
  • light sour creme
    • 1 1/2 cups per/handful of mushrooms
  • pepper to taste
    • i like lots
  • sea salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon
  • dill and parsley
    • add to your own preference
wash the mushrooms, chop the mushrooms to little bits, mix everything together, add salt, and pepper to taste, place it in a container and refrigerate for an hour or two to allow the ingredients to mix. that's if you can wait that long. I enjoy the spread on crackers and sometimes added to a hot batch of pasta as a creme sauce. it's great any way you choose. the spread may not prove ideal to finicky texture weary folk but you never know. gotta try it to be sure.

my favorite cracker is "finn crisp" crackers. they rock. you can see that there are times that i don't even bother with the spreading. i just dip right in.

here are a few photos that are click-able; each leading to further facts about mushrooms and relative factual and/or observed information.
  • click on the photo to take you to it's originating site

and a really cool site is rogers mushrooms. the site is based upon rogers work that lead up to his book Mushrooms and other fungi of Great Britain and Europe. you'll want to check it out. it covers the edibles and the inedible. it seems to be more for the scientific minded but the photos and the mushroom kitchen areas are not to be missed. the mushroom kitchen not only educates you about the specific edible it immediately links you to one or more tasty recipes. below is one of rogers photos. yes they are all this good!

mushrooms for me are a longed for addition to my winter meals. their meaty, earthy tones really hit the spot. i will often add them to creamy pasta sauces, i'll cook them into soups, as above i'll mix into a low fat sour creme and for those of you who crave a meaty texture but don't eat meat or are cutting back on the meat intake, consider mushrooms as an alternative.

take a walk in your local grocer's wild side.
explore explore explore
you never know until you try

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