Health Benefits of Black Fungus
Traditionally used in Chinese cooking, the benefits of black fungus or ear mushroom are often overlooked by modern Chinese themselves. The Chinese call it cloud ear or tree ear fungus and it derives its various names from where it grows and its shape. It grows on a variety of dead woods and looks like the ear in its original dry form. When soaked, it expands to many times its original size, forming a rubbery mass of twirls that look like the shape of a billowing cloud.
In more modern times, black fungus has been found to possess anticoagulant properties and prevent blood clotting in blood vessels. In terms of taste and price, it is a much better alternative to pig liver as a good source of iron, containing up to seven times of iron compared to pig liver which actually taste awful. Lack of iron in the blood can cause anemia, a condition that makes a person feels weak and tired easily due to inadequate oxygen in the blood.
Besides this, black fungus is also rich in protein, vitamins D, B1 and B2. It is also a good source of calcium, reportedly containing twice the amount of calcium compared to milk. The Chinese traditionally eat this to improve the quality of blood and blood circulation, thus helping a person to live longer. Recent reports allude to it being able to help prevent cancer.
Black fungus has great benefits but very little taste on its own. Before cooking, it has to be soaked in adequate water for at least fifteen minutes and then cut into strips. For convenience, dried black fungus in strips form are also available in supermarkets. It is traditionally cooked with stirred fried vegetables like cabbage, carrot, bean sprouts or broccoli, or even chicken meat strips. It can also be added to rice porridge, herbal soups or added as part of a salad dish.