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Dried mushrooms, fungus, plants and flowers

There are so many kinds of dried fungus and plants and flowers, each with their own distinct flavor and texture not to mention medicinal value. Here are just a few I love and have learned to use in dishes.

Dried black (shitake) mushrooms

Shitake mushrooms are great fresh but has a much more intense earthy flavor dried and rehydrated. Use them chopped in any savory dumpling filling, sliced soups and stir frys, a must in every vegetarian dish, and of course in joongs/zhongzhi.

Dried black fungus/wood ear mushrooms

This fungus doesn't have a whole lot of flavor on its own but is an interesting ingredient for it's unique texture, crispy like thin cartilage. It takes on the flavor of its marinade well. Medicinally it is higher in iron than liver and believed to lower cholesterol.

Tiger lily flower

These are the unopened flowers of daylilies. They have a light floral/woody flavor. I use them in the vegan Chinese New Year dish "jai".

Lily bulb

Lily bulbs are an edible starchy root vegetable with a light sweet flavor and gently crispy texture. I use it in sweet and savory soups as well as the vegan Chinese New Year dish "jai".

Black moss

Especially served during Chinese New Year because it's name in Cantonese is "fat choy" which sounds like the well wish for prosperity. This is actually an algae with fine strands resembling hair. It is stretchy and crispy and lends a nice texture to the Chinese vegan dish "jai".

Bamboo leaves

Bamboo leaves are not an ingredient but used as a wrapper for joongs/zhongzhi. When they are rehydrated they become soft and pliable, ready to be shaped into a cone to hold rice, mung beans and savory fillings. When they are steamed or boiled they lend a distinct pleasant leafy aroma that adds to the experience.

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