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鸡纵菌 (Ji Zong Jun) [Termitornyces albuminosus(Berk)Heim]

By Xiao

If I need to pick an absolute favorite among all the Yunnan wild mushrooms, it has to be 鸡纵菌 (Ji Zong Jun). Unlike other mushroom, one will only find it with certain local termite mounts. And if one pays attention not to destroy the mount while picking the mushroom, one can come back later to harvest during the season. Guess this is nature’s way to teach us leave a small footprint whatever we do.

Local people cook Ji Zong Jun in several different ways. Stir fry with various vegetables and meats. Slowly deep fry it to get concentrate the flavor and to preserve it. Using this method, even the oil it is preserved in is so infused with flavors, it is simply wonderful to put in other dishes or just plain noodles. Yet my favorite dish is a simple soup/broth with just the Ji Zong Jun, water, a bit of salt, and couple of drops of vegetable oil before serving. I like it because this is the only way to bring out the subtle sweetness of the mushroom which is perfect with its unique aroma. Some people say the inside flesh is snow white and has texture like chicken and the soup is very tasty like the best chicken soup. But I have to disagree. If cooked right, the mushroom is both tender and crisp with light yet such complex flavor, it is like nothing one will ever taste. And the soup, I can just down it bowl after bowl, day after day, if it is up to me.

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