Braising or stewing is a very popular cooking technique in Chinese cuisine. Often, simple braised dishes are classic home cooking one pot comfort food utilising meat like chicken, beef, seafood and vegetables. The main ingredient used for braising is often meat, slow cooked until the meat is soft and tender and have soaked up the flavour of the sauce. This method of cooking is very popular throughout all parts of China and South East Asia. Typically, the braising sauce is made of soy sauce, dark soy sauce, fermented red tofu paste and Chinese rice wine. This gluten free recipe is yet another very humble and simply delicious Chinese home cooking dish. I am using chicken breast pieces and black fungus as my main ingredients cooked in a goji berries, ginger, blackstrap molasses and sherry wine sauce. This recipe is also soy free, dairy free, egg free, nut free and allergy friendly.
Black fungus (Auricularia polytricha), also commonly called wood ear fungus, tree ear fungus or cloud ear fungus, is a type of edible fungus that are dark brown to black in colour and has texture similar to soft jelly. This genus appears in clusters on decomposing branches and on rotten stubs and woods. Dried form of black fungus are inexpensive and are frequently used as an ingredient in Chinese cuisine to add crunch and texture to the dish. On its own, black fungus has no flavour just like tofu, but will infuse the flavour of the dish that it is cooked in. Black fungus can be added to stir-fries, soups like hot and sour soup, stews, vegetarian spring rolls and salads. The culinary and medicinal use of black fungus can be dated all the way back to many thousands of years ago and was first cultivated as far back as during the time of the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Black fungus is often claimed as a healing food or super food and in traditional Chinese medicine, it is regularly used to treat colds and fever, improve blood circulation and to treat ailments of the lungs, digestive system and liver. Black fungus is very rich in protein and dietary fiber, it contains more protein, iron and calcium than meat sources. It is also an excellent source of vitamins and minerals like vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin 9 (folate/folic acid), vitamin K, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and selenium. Health benefits of black fungus include: most notably, its anticoagulant properties, decreasing the risks of blood clots, thrombosis and cardiovascular diseases; the plant collagen and polysaccharides of black fungus has strong absorption that can help detox the digestive system from any contamination, promote bowel movements and prevent constipation; assist in weight loss and lower risks of obesity; help dissolve stones in body; prevent and treat anaemia; and has anti-cancer and anti-aging properties. Black fungus like many exotic mushrooms are healthy and exceptional substitute for vegans or vegetarians who do not consume meats.
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