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Bai Mu Er is a large white mushroom that grows on hardwood trees and has almost as many names as it does health benefits. It is most commonly called Tremella Fuciformis, Snow Fungus, or White Wood Ear. It is used in Chinese herbal medicine and cooking.
When cooked, this versatile mushroom is slippery and reminiscent of a glass noodle with a slight crunch to it. It doesn’t have much of a flavor, making it useful in sweet or savory dishes. It is a good vehicle for sopping up sauces and the flavors of other ingredients it is paired with.
White wood ear is particularly good to eat during Autumn. In Chinese medicine Autumn is the time to strengthen the lungs and that’s just what this mushroom does. As an immune booster, White Wood Ear strengthens the lungs to prevent the common cold, soothes asthma and nasal inflammation, and reduces phlegm. In human clinical studies it has been shown to boost blood cell count due to damage from radiation and chemotherapy. It also stimulates white blood cell activity, which is crucial for a healthy immune system.
Tremella Fuciformis polysaccharides (sugars) are often used in cosmetics for their ability to moisturize and protect skin and its flexibility. Polysaccharides from this mushroom are an anti-inflammatory agent, reducing degeneration of micro-vessels to maintain good blood perfusion to the skin.
For healthy skin and an immune boost, try this recipe:
White Wood Ear With Broccoli
3 cups fresh broccoli florets
1 white wood ear
(soaked for 30 minutes with stem removed, and chopped into ¼” pieces)
2 cloves fresh minced garlic
2 Tablespoons lite soy sauce
1.5 Teaspoons honey
1 Tablespoon black sesame oil + splash of oil to cook garlic
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
How to Prepare White Wood Ear Mushroom:
Soak white wood ear mushroom in room temperature water for 30 minutes
Drain and core-out stem from mushroom (hard orange colored section) Discard.
Cut mushroom into ¼ inch pieces
In a separate bowl, whisk together soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, and lemon juice
Sauté garlic until fragrant and add to sauce. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to boil on high heat. Reduce heat to medium.
Add wood ear mushroom and broccoli to pot.
Cover and cook for 4 minutes
Remove pot from heat and strain off liquid. Drain well
Mix broccoli and wood ear mushroom with sauce. Serve immediately
How to find White Wood Ear:
You can find White Wood Ear in Asian markets like Dong Yang Market or Yu Yu Asian Supermarket.
Good quality wood ear is sold dried. When soaked, it should be white and glossy, and the flesh should be free of foreign matter, sand, and wooden parts.