Mushrooms are widely used in our recipes. Ranging from salads to pizzas to pasta, the mushroom is the ultimate ingredient. There are different types of mushrooms out there, and wood ear mushroom is one of them. If you are a fan of Chinese cuisine, you have probably heard about wood ear mushrooms, but they can be hard to find outside China. For this reason, we have the wood ear mushroom substitutes for you!
Wood Ear Mushrooms – What Are These?
These mushrooms are the jelly fungus that is widely used in Chinese cuisine. These mushrooms have been around since 200BC and were first used and cooked in China. Wood wear mushrooms can be consumed as food, but some people also consume them as medicines. These mushrooms are usually found in Asian markets. As the name suggests, wood ear mushrooms have an ear-like shape.
However, the backside of the mushroom has a velvety feel and appearance. These mushrooms have a dark brown color, but some of them are translucent as well. The wood ear mushrooms are widely used in soups and stir-fries. These mushrooms have a flavorless and crunchy texture. These mushrooms can absorb the flavors from other ingredients, and the texture will be pretty interesting.
These mushrooms have to be boiled for one to two minutes before they are added to the recipe. It’s safe to say that these mushrooms are available at low costs and are found in Asia pretty easily. Now, let’s have a look at the wood ear mushroom substitutes!
Wood Ear Mushroom Substitutes
1) Dried Wood Ear Mushrooms
Generally, people use fresh wood ear mushrooms, which makes the dried version an apt substitute. These mushrooms have a black trumpet appearance and are native to China. The dried wood ear mushrooms have a frail and thin appearance and are curled around themselves. These mushrooms tend to grow on decaying trees.
The dried wood ear mushrooms have a flat and broad shape. These mushrooms can deliver a fine forest aroma, and the texture will be gelatinous and crunchy. The dried wood ear mushrooms are widely used in Asian cuisines, such as hot and sour soups. The texture is pretty chewy, but the flavor is bland. You have to soak these mushrooms in water for half an hour before they are added to the recipe.
After soaking, these mushrooms gain a large and wavy appearance. The users can trim the stems before adding them to the recipe. The dried wood ear mushrooms can be cut into thin slices and pieces. These mushrooms are usually added at the end of the recipe so that the chewy texture is retained. Also, these mushrooms can be used in Japanese recipes as well.
2) Cloud Ear Mushrooms
The cloud ear mushrooms are the fungus type and are widely used in Asian cuisines and cooking. In the fresh form, these mushrooms look like a human ear, so that’s where it gets the name from. Cloud ear mushrooms are grown in China and India; they usually grow on mango trees. These mushrooms have a silky appearance with a gelatinous and elastic texture.
The cloud ear mushrooms don’t have gills or stems. It has a cup shape with a thin appearance, and the edges are ruffled. These mushrooms have a darkish-yellow-brown color. However, the mature version will have a black or brown color. In China, these mushrooms are known as black treasure and are available in dried as well as fresh form.
These mushrooms can be added to soups and stir-fries. In addition, these mushrooms can be expensive as compared to wood ear mushrooms. These mushrooms can be cut or used as a whole in the recipes. Cloud ear mushrooms have a rich umami fragrance, but the flavor is pretty mild.
3) Enoki Mushrooms
The enoki mushrooms are famous as velvet shanks and are widely used in Japanese cuisine. These mushrooms grow on the hackberry tree, mulberry tree, ash tree, and persimmon trees. The enoki mushrooms are available from September to March. These mushrooms have a soft yet firm texture (it isn’t crunchy like wood ear mushrooms).
These mushrooms have white caps and stalks. The most intriguing part is that enoki mushrooms have a fruity yet mild flavor. These mushrooms can be used in salads, stir-fries, soups, and noodle recipes. These mushrooms can be cooked and can be consumed in raw form.