This pork and black fungus stew 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. For my gluten free pork and black fungus stew recipe, 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.
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).
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 5 garlic cloves peeled and finely minced
- 600 g 1.3Ib/21oz skinless and boneless pork leg, trimmed and roughly cut into 3cm pieces
- 600 g 1.3Ib/21oz skinless and boneless pork shoulder, trimmed and roughly cut into 3cm to 4 cm pieces
- 100 g 3.5oz dried natural black fungus
- 2 star anise
- 10 cloves
- ½ cup water
- Steamed rice to serve
For the Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons of gluten free light soy sauce
- 6 tablespoons of gluten free thick soy sauce kecap manis (refer relevant recipe)
- 5 tablespoons of gluten free hoisin sauce
- 2 tablespoons of pale or medium dry sherry
For the Garnish:
- 3 sprigs of coriander including stems roughly cut into 1 to 2 cm lengthwise
- To prepare the black fungus, soak them in hot water until rehydrated and soften. Wash black fungus and drain water and set aside. Cut each black fungus into 2 inch pieces if using larger size wood ear fungus, remove any woody parts.
- Heat up a pressure cooker with 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and stir-fry the garlic on low heat until lightly golden.
- Add in all the pork pieces, stir-fry for 5 minutes on high to medium heat. Then add in all the black fungus, the sauce prepared earlier plus the water and stir-fry for another 10 minutes.
- Cover the pressure cooker and lock lid. Once pressure is attained, reduced heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes. Turn off heat. Let the pressure cooker rest for another 10 minutes, carefully release pressure. Unlock lid.
- Garnish with coriander and serve with steamed rice.