Okay, First of all, I know that title is a mouthful. Second of all… cloud ear fungus ? What in heaven’s name is that ? and am I suppose to eat that ?
Cloud ear fungus is very common in Asian kitchen and it is also known by many names such as wood ear fungus, black ear fungus, ear fungus, etc. They do shape like an ear. If you understand Hokkian dialect, this is also known as “bok ni” or in Chinese “木耳” Usually being sold in dried form. Once you soak them in water to rehydrate they plump up twice or thrice the size when they were dried. It has no taste whatsoever, crunchy in texture and can endure long hours of cooking without losing its crunchiness. When you use them in cooking, they absorb flavor from others. In Southeast Asia, cloud ear fungus is often used for stir-fry and soup.
Which is why I found this vermicelli soup with cloud ear fungus or known as kyasan chet in the Burmese kitchen as well. This soup has a real strong kick from the red chili paste and ground black pepper. So, if I have one piece of advice to give you before you try this, consume the soup slowly and don’t talk much because I don’t want them to go down the wrong tube, in which the result may not be so pretty in sight! If you know me, I’m in for this kind of soup though! I like hot spicy, numbing sensation chilis and peppers give. Well, this soup is not numbing like what Szechuan peppercorns can do, but still, it’s peppery and it will give you a good kick if you need it 😉 You can choose to cut down on the amount of ground black pepper, but that’s what I like about it from this soup though 🙂 This kyasan chet is very popular among the Burmese and often served on ceremonial occasions.
- 2 Tbsp peanut oil
- 2 Tbsp ground onion
- 4 medium dried red chilies , soaked and ground
- 3 cloves garlic , ground
- 7 oz (200 g) boneless chicken, cubed
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 5 oz (150 g) rice vermicelli, or bean thread noodles soaked in hot water
- 1/2 cup dried cloud ear fungus , soaked in hot water and will yield about 2 cups when drained
- 1 sheet dried soy bean curd (about 6x8 inches), soaked in hot water
- 6 Tbsp of fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp ground black peppercorns
- 3 sprigs chopped coriander leaves
- 2 limes , quartered
- 4 hard-boil eggs (peeled and cut in half)
- Heat oil over medium-high heat and saute ground onion, chili and garlic until fragrant. Add chicken and stir-fry for 5 minutes until chicken is half-cooked. Add chicken stock and bring to the boil
- Drain vermicelli or bean thread noodles, cloud ear fungus and soy bean sheet. With scissors, cut each into bite-size piece and add to soup (except if you use bean thread noodles, don't add this yet). Stir in fish sauce and pepper. Boil for 15 minutes. Add bean thread noodles only the last 5 minutes of cooking as it cooks faster than rice vermicelli. Garnish with coriander leaves, lime wedges and half of the hard-boiled eggs on each serving bowl