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Pork and Black Fungus Stew

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This is a typical Hakka cuisine created in the south eastern parts of Chinese regions of Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi and Jiangxi. The original recipe calls for deep frying of the marinated pork, normally pork belly, the addition of red fermented bean curd (often referred to as Chinese cheese) and five spice powder to the dish, then stewing like a casserole dish. In my gluten free version of this dish, I have made some modification to the ingredients to include lean pork leg and shoulder, replaced red fermented bean curd with gluten free hoisin sauce and included spices like cloves and star anise.

Black fungus, scientific name is called Auricularia polytricha, also identified as Chinese black fungus mushroom, cloud ear, wood ear fungus, ear fungus and tree fungus. They grow in groups in tropical and subtropical deciduous forests and damp forests on decomposing branches and twigs, indigenous to Asia and some Pacific islands. Black fungus is dark brown to black in colour, usually sold as dried black fungus and needs to be rehydrated with water before cooking. It is a widespread edible mushroom used in Chinese cooking and commonly used in hot and sour soup in Chinese restaurants all over the world. It is usually added for its crunchy texture as it has no taste by itself, but will take in all the flavourings added in cooking. Most frequently used in stews (casseroles), soups, salads and stir-frys. I am using natural black fungus for this dish as it is wild grown, much smaller and has a smooth and crunchy texture and no woody parts.

 

Pork and Black Fungus Stew

 

There are many health benefits associated with the consumption of black fungus. It is hailed as a naturally healing food or superfood similar to shiitake mushrooms. It is rich in protein equivalent to meat, has high level of iron, excellent source of calcium and also abundant in vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and vitamin D. In traditional Chinese medicine, black fungus is used as remedies for haematemesis (vomiting of blood due to acute gastrointestinal bleeding), cleansing of toxic matters from the body, anemia caused by iron deficiency, for boosting blood circulation, as well as treatments for constipation, haemorrhoids, heart diseases and high blood pressure, plus the prevention of cancer. In addition, it also helps detoxify the body as it forages and cleanses the digestive system with its distinctive pectin by absorbing any impurities in the digestive system. If you work or live in a polluted environment, it will be beneficial for your health to consume black fungus on a regular basis. New studies also revealed that black fungus is an anti-coagulant, successful in reducing LDL cholesterol (“the bad cholesterol”) and atherosclerosis (thickening and hardening of the arteries).

 

Gluten Free Pork and Black Fungus Stew

 

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