Forgotten Feast Friday: Chinese New Year Soup...?!
I'm sure a lot of you were wondering what sort of food would be available to forage for in the wild in January! Is this weird fungus anything like what you expected? Me neither!
While the Amber Jelly Fungus (Exidia recisa) may look strange, it is actually a fairly common (and frequently overlooked) edible fungus that can be found all Autumn and Winter long on rotting deciduous tree branches. If you go hunting for this unique ingredient, be sure to not only look for those tree branches laying on the ground, but also those at face level or just above, growing from broken branches that are still dangling from the tree. Not only is this simply a great place to find them, but it will give you more certainty what type of tree you have gotten your specimen from.
It's incredible to me how Nature always provides exactly what we need to eat when we need to eat it! This fungus is such a great Winter option due to being a good source of energy-giving protein; and vitamins B1, B2, which improve metabolic function; C, the much-exalted immune-booster; and D, which strengthens your bones and can even aid in stabilizing your mood. If you've experienced seasonal affective disorder, or seasonal depression, this warmly-colored gelatinous substitute for sunshine may just be for you! Even when frozen or dried, they can be resuscitated into edibility once more by simply thawing them out and soaking them in lukewarm water.
A little more rubbery in texture than tofu, the Amber Jelly Fungus has a similar culinary quality of being rather tasteless on its own, but taking on the flavors of other ingredients in a dish in a pleasant and versatile way. So without further ado, an Asian-inspired recipe! A perfectly wild dish to make in just a few weeks for Chinese New Year.
Asian Jelly Fungus Soup
Your Amber Jelly Fungus findings
2 tbsp coconut/olive oil
pinch of salt
1/2 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp turmeric
2 large sticks of celery, sliced
2 medium carrots, peeled and julienned
1 quart chicken broth
6 oz. mei fun noodles
First, begin preparing your mei fun noodles as it describes on the package. The water can begin boiling while you start your second step! Then, sauté your jelly fungus in coconut or olive oil with your spices, carrots, and celery. Once the vegetables are beginning to become tender, add a pinch of salt and remove from heat for about 10 minutes to allow the jellies to absorb the flavors. At this time, your noodles will probably be ready to strain. When the jellies are ready, add broth, noodles, and scallions and bring to a boil. Serve hot and enjoy!