Why Wood Ear (Black Fungus) Should Be a Staple in Your Diet
- Published on: 04 November, 2014
- Last update: 26 January, 2016
Thank you to my amazing Chinese Medicine doctor for teaching me all about (and feeding me lots of) “wood ear” this week! Since meeting Lily, I’ve tried foods that may look a little scary but taste absolutely amazing and have a myriad of benefits. I never expected I’d be eating something called “black fungus”… but it’s delicious and makes you feel great. Some of the things I’ve tried this week besides wood ear include: Natto, lotus root, amare seaweed, burdock root, and green curry (from her Thai friend!)
Authentic Chinese cuisine is simple, purposeful, and seasonal. If Lily prepares a cooling dish (i.e. a green vegetable like Bok Choy) she will steam it with ginger to balance the “cold” factor. If she prepares fungus, which can also be cooling (yin), she stir fries it with garlic (a warming spice). She only eats in season (we’ve been having lots of pumpkin and roots) and has soup/a bowl of rice with every dinner. Rice builds up your strength and yang while comforting the stomach.
In a Chinese meal, each individual diner is given their own bowl of rice while the accompanying dishes are served in communal plates (or bowls) which are shared by everyone sitting at the table, a communal service known as “family style” in Western nations. Each diner picks food out of the communal plates on a bite-by-bite basis with their chopsticks. It honestly feels like every single meal is a feast or celebration, and adds a sense of abundance and community to the table.
One of our communal plates the other night at Lily’s house was a stir fry of broccoli, mushroom, and wood ear. You could hardly taste the fungus, but it really added something to the texture and fullness of the meal.
Here are the benefits:
Wood ear is a VERY important food for us that should be incorporated into everyone’s diet. It is especially beneficial for blood, as it can nourish, activate, and clean the blood all at once. Wood ear nourishes yin, counteracts high cholesterol, increases body fluids, and adds moisture to the lung. (We are currently in autumn, a season where our throats/lungs get very dry. This is the perfect time to eat lung-moisturizing foods!)
Black fungus contains vitamin K, which can assist prevention of blood coagulation, thrombosis, and embolism. Regular consumption can help prevent atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. It’s rich in iron, as well as cellulose and a special plant collagen. Cellulose and collagen together can promote intestinal fat/food excretion, prevent constipation, and help the body to remove toxic substances (which alleviates postpartum hemorrhoids!). Last but certainly not least, wood ear can help dissolve gallstones, kidney stones, bladder stones, AND prevent cancer!
Wood ear has little to no taste and the texture is rubbery yet easy to chew. It’s actually very pleasant!
You can buy wood ear in any Chinese market. They come dried, so you must soak them for at least 30 minutes. After soaking:
2) boil in water for 3 minutes, and
3) drain and set aside
Start up a vegetable stir fry (example: olive oil, garlic, broccoli & mushroom) and add the wood year into the mix on medium heat. It will take on the taste of the garlic and add texture/huge benefits to your meal! Enjoy 🙂