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Mushrooms found in China
China and especially Guangdong has a wealth of naturally grown mushrooms. Generally any supermarket or wet market will have a dozen different varieties on sale on any given day.

On this page we will attempt to list them all, or at least all the common ones, and also give you pictures and pointers in the best ways of using them.

Please also see our related page: Chinese mushroom soup, which is an unusual and totally excellent recipe

Let's get started:-
 
1. Chinese stick mushrooms (Enoki or snowpuff mushrooms) - these are white and a thin strip about 3 or 4 inches long. They have a very small round crown, and usually come in bunches, which you should break apart a little.

These are often found in delicate Chinese soups, and also vegetarian cuisine. They are also great in 'hotpot', but don't leave them to overcook.

That stated, they are often very chewy, so for normal cooking I would give them 20 minutes simmer before serving.

Image: Chinese stick mushrooms - Enoki or Snowpuff Mushrooms
   
2. Chinese egg mushrooms.

These are a creamy gray colour and between 1 and 2 inches long. They look exactly like small eggs.

Prepare these by washing and chopping into halves or quarters. No need to bother removing the skin, or you will be doing it for hours!

These have quite a strong taste, and are hardy when cooked. This makes them ideal for casserole type dishes, where I would simply add them whole.

When added whole, the insides fill with hot fluid, so be careful when biting into them. However the excellent flavour makes them one of my stalwarts in the kitchen.

I have used them in place of common button mushrooms in my 'Splodge', and they are brilliant! They are also common in Chinese soups, and withstand simmering for hours extremely well + adding unique flavour to the dish.
Image: Chinese straw mushrooms

Image: Chinese straw mushrooms
   
3. Chinese fan mushrooms (Oyster). These are known in the west but I do not know their real name. They come in various sizes and are sold as blocks. They are notable for being fluted and look like a long thin flower petal.

White ones are usually fresher when sold in Chinese wet markets, and they are also preferred by Cantonese chefs.

If you buy them in a clump, then break them down into individual florets. They are then washed by tossing in water, and added to the dish as appropriate.

Sizes range from less than an inch to over 9 inches, so cooking times need adjusting dependant upon size. You will probably find the largest ones are quite tough unless cooked for an hour or more, so we aim for 3 to 5 inches for most dishes.

These I would cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or if added to a casserole, then interpolate and add nearer serving time.
Image: Yellow Oyster Mushrooms
   
4. Chinese brown mushrooms are know as Chinese Black Mushrooms or Shiitake. These are normally sold dried in plastic bags in supermarkets, and have a cross on the top.

If you can find these fresh then they are a lot better. If not, then you should soak these for several hours at least, and overnight is preferred. If you do this, then save the water to use for thinning a soup.

As long as these are not very wide (Less than 1 inch), I would not cut them.
Image: Chinese Dried Black Mushrooms
   
5. I like to use a traditional button mushroom as the final ingredient, in some dishes.

Standard or brown caps are good, and size is important re presentation. If I have small mushrooms, then I would simply wash them and add to the pot. If they are larger, then I would break off the stem, and probably cut the crown in two.

Use these exactly as you would in the west, but also know there are several types of brown caps, all delicious!
Image: Chinese Button Mushrooms
   
That's your starter for 5, and know we will be adding to these in the near future (6th August 2010)
   
This information is as supplied by ourselves, and ably supported by our friends and various internet portals.
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