Black Wood Ear is a specialty product of Puli, Taiwan. Fresh black wood ear is smooth and wonderfully crunchy. It is available in the traditional street markets in Taiwan but you can also find dried ones in Asian supermarkets.
Black wood ear is sometimes called black fungus. If you buy the dried kind, just soak it in water for an hour to reconstitute it. Then it can be used in a stir fry, add it to soups or even in salads. Its crunchy texture and dark, velvety color adds an unusual element to even the most basic dish. I like to use it in a stir fry with pork or steamed with chicken. You can also make a vegetarian stir fry with olive oil, garlic, black wood ear, mushrooms and broccoli (or with celery, sweet peas, zucchini, cucumber etc… works with whatever vegetables you have on hand!). By itself, it does not have any flavor but it takes on the fragrant flavor of garlic or the meat that you are cooking it with.
Black wood ear is actually very nutritious. According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), it is especially beneficial for blood, as it can nourish the blood and prevent blood coagulation and frequent consumption of black wood ear prevents coronary heart disease. In addition, black wood ear supposedly counteracts high cholesterol, increases body fluids, and adds moisture to the lung – especially great for autumn when our throats/lungs get very dry.
180g pork, cut into 1 inch strips
half a cup of black wood ear
2 small Japanese cucumbers, peeled and sliced
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
2 tbsp cooking oil
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2-4 tbsp water
Marinade for pork:
1/2 tsp sugar
1 and 1/2 tbsps light soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp corn starch
1 tbsp water
pinch of salt
- Marinate the pork for at least half an hour, with sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, black pepper, corn starch, salt and water.
- Prepare the black wood ear. If using fresh wood ear, just rinse it, then parboil it for 5 mins, drain the water and set aside. If using dried black wood ear, you need to soak it in water for an hour, rinse, then parboil for 5 mins, drain and set aside. (It expands when fully reconstituted, so I often cut it into smaller pieces before stir frying)
- Heat the cooking oil, stir fry the garlic for a few seconds, then add in the pork and stir fry until light brown.
- Add in the cucumber, black wood ear, oyster sauce and stir fry together with the pork. Add one or two tablespoons of water if it seems kind of dry. Stir fry for 5 mins or until the cucumber and pork are cooked. Serve hot with rice. Enjoy!