I unexpectedly learned many ways to prepare wood ears (also called black fungus and cloud fungus) when my husband decided to rehydrate a whole package of them, not realizing it would turn into about half a gallon of shiny ear-shaped fungus! My affection for wood ears began one day in the office breakroom, when my colleague, “Sunshine,” was eating one of her many delicious smelling homemade lunches. I asked her about it and she told me the ingredients in her stir fry. She offered a wood ear for me to try. It tasted of the soy sauce and vegetables in her dish and had the texture of thin rubber, but in a really fun way!
I’ve had the pleasure of working with several people from China, who have introduced me to new and exciting foods. After trying Sunshine’s wood ears, I wanted more! I went to a nearby Asian market and picked up a bag containing a few ounces of small, shriveled, dry sticks. Before I even had a chance to figure out what to do with them, I came home to the half gallon tupperware of rehydrated fungus, courtesy of Nathan. We ate a lot of them over the next week, often stir fried with veggies. But our favorite creation was this dish. We giggle when we call it rubber eggs. I know it doesn’t sound like the most appetizing name, but the rubbery quality is truly so delightful. The fungus takes on the flavors of the other ingredients and adds an enjoyable chewiness. And who doesn’t love scrambled eggs with cheese?
Just before Sunshine returned to China after working in the US for two years, she gave me a beautiful tin of wood ears as a gift. We had a good laugh when she showed me how they were packaged in small individual portions, to avoid the mistake Nathan made the first time he rehydrated them.
I encourage you to stop by your local Asian market and pick up some wood ears. Report back with your experiences!
Rubber eggs (cheesy scrambled eggs with wood ear fungus)
Recipe by Hillary Huber
2 teaspoons cooking fat/oil (whichever kind you prefer; I used rendered goose fat)
½ pound button mushrooms, halved or quartered (optional)
Small handful dehydrated wood ears (aka, black fungus or cloud ear fungus)
4 eggs, cracked into a dish and whisked
2 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
5 green onions, chopped
Salt and pepper
Rehydrate the wood ears by soaking in warm filtered water for about 10 minutes while you prep the other ingredients. They will go from looking like small, dried out pieces of bark to rubbery, shiny brown ears.
Heat the oil over medium high heat in a 10-inch nonstick sauté pan. If using, add button mushrooms and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add wood ears and sauté another 5 minutes. Lower the heat to medium low. Pour in the eggs and stir constantly for about 1 minute. Add the cheese and stir another 30 seconds, or until the eggs are cooked through and the cheese is melted. Remove from heat. Stir in the green onions. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
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My name is Hillary. This blog is about the everyday food I prepare in my kitchen, with tips and recipes for easy, wholesome, and diet friendly meals. I have been chanting "cheese please!" since I was a toddler, although lately I've cut back on dairy.