Beauty Kitchen: clearer skin tone with black fungus

Following some of the feedback I’ve received, I’ve decided to introduce “Beauty Kitchen” on this blog. This will not be a weekly feature, but it should be fairly regular, and will cover some of the dishes I cook that uses food ingredient with beauty benefits. So to kick off this series, let me introduce my first dish that uses dried black fungus – known as 黑木耳 and is pronounced as Hei Mu Er in Chinese. Interestingly, I found out that this ingredient has various other names such as Auricularia Polytricha, wood ear, cloud ear, Judas ear or tree ear. It is actually a mushroom that is dark brown to black and native to Asia and some Pacific islands with humid climates. My Chinese readers should be very familiar with them.

Helps reduce cholesterol and control weight
Although black fungus is available fresh, but it is advisable to use the dried form for cooking purposes because that would mean that whatever bacteria on the fungus would have been killed while being sun dried. This ingredient has protein, fat, calcium, carbohydrates, carotene, vitamins, vitamin B1, a variety of amino acids, lysine and leucine and a large number of fibers, potassium, magnesium and sodium. It has a very high content iron and the content of vitamin B2 and calcium is said to be 30-70 times that in common meat. Black fungus is said to be able to increase the fluidity and circulation of the blood, and is beneficial to those with anemia. I’ve also learnt that it is able to regulate cholesterol in blood and apparently can help to control weight.

Helps detox impurities in the digestive system
But what got my interest was that black fungus has high dietary fibres and it can “absorb” toxins in our digestive system, and rid them via excretion. So, all in all, black fungus is said to have many health benefits, including prevention of cancer but those patients with blood thinning issues should avoid consuming this. But in any case, I think this ingredient should be eaten with moderation even by healthy folks. I certainly wouldn’t recommend daily consumption in large quantity.

Helps eliminate skin pigmentation
More interestingly, black fungus is found to contain melanin that can act as an antioxidant (source). I read from various Chinese sources that this ingredient is great for women because not only does it help improve blood circulation and hence improve our skin tone, but it also helps to reduce skin pigmentation with frequent consumption. If you can read Chinese, you can check out more details via this article where it recommends making a soup using black fungus and red dates.

Simple but delicious recipe
I’ve always love eating black fungus. It is tasteless on its own but is great when cooked with other ingredients. I’ve never tried using black fungus in my soup but it’s possible. You can also fry an egg mixed with some black fungus and onion. It’s very tasty too but my favorite is this dish here – black fungus fried with cabbage. It’s a simple dish that takes around 15 minutes to cook. Here are the ingredients:
– chopped garlic
– one fish cake, sliced to strips
– 1/4 to 1/2 cabbage, cut to smaller pieces
– a handful of black fungus, soaked and washed
– half a small bowl of chicken or pork stock
– some salt

Braise for about 10 minutes
Start by frying the garlic before frying the fish cake. The cabbage and the black fungus can be thrown in for a short stir before you pour the chicken or pock stock into the dish and let it braised for 10 minutes, covered. Then add salt to the taste and that’s it.

So are any of you fond of eating black fungus too? Do you have other interesting recipes using this ingredient to share with us?

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  1. says

    Oooo…I love black fungus. White as well if it is in a form of dessert. I know of one traditional Hakka dish that uses black fungus and pork, where the pork will be first marinated with lam yu( fermented beancurd ), fried and then braised. It is absolutely yummy..except that I don’t have a recipie to share.:P

  2. Pollya says

    Yikes… I hate black fungus!!! I always pick it out when I see it in my soup or meat dishes. Yeah, I know it’s bad, cos it has lots of nutritional/health properties, but I can’t help it, I really don’t like it. Well, at least I don’t throw it away, I make someone else in my family eat it up, hahaha!

    • sesame says

      You don’t like it? Well, it’s okay. I know of people who dislike all types of mushrooms so it’s not too unusual not to like this. 😉

      • Pollya says

        Yeah, I don’t like all kinds of mushrooms and fungus :-(, but I’ll eat them if they’re well hidden/camouflaged in the dish, hee hee!!

          • Pollya says

            Guess what, Sesame? I was out for dinner over the weekend and one dish that was served was braised fish with black fungus!! So I ‘forced’ myself to eat the black fungus cos I remembered your post and all the nutritional benefits!! :-) But it wasn’t that difficult cos the sauce was quite thick and strong, so it masked the taste of the fungus quite well, haha!!

          • sesame says

            Oh good! It’s actually tasteless so it’ll take on the taste of other ingredients cooked with it. Probably needs to acquire the taste to get use to it. 😉

    • sesame says

      They’re great for health but like other food, we should just eat with moderation. I eat these at most once a week.

  3. hilda says

    My favorite salty dish with this is chicken, shiitake mushroms, and black fungus. Amazingly delicious!

  4. says

    Black fungus stewed with garlic and pork is absolutely heavenly, oh gosh. I’m salivating just thinking about it lol. Quite sinful unless you use lean pork. The black fungus actually melts if you cook it for very long, thickening the stew and making it taste ultra sinful, even if you use leaner cuts of pork. I’m so glad to know that black fungus has so many benefits, now I don’t need to feel so guilty whenever I indulge in this 😛

    • sesame says

      I’ve never tried that…this should work with pig’s trotters too I suppose…more sinful!

    • sesame says

      Haha…no worries. There are plenty of beauty food that you will like so if you don’t like this, eat others. 😉

  5. says

    My Mom calls this “rat ear” so when I was a kid, I tossed it out of the dish whenever I spotted it on my plate. I really thought it was exactly what it’s called. Even after finding out it’s really a fungus, the stigma remained. I only learned to eat it about 2 years ago. Hubby forced me to take it because I was slightly anemic then and he said it’ll help me get my blood and iron levels higher… and told me it’ll make me fairer, lol. I really don’t mind my skin color but since I’m prone to pigmentations, it seems the only way I can even out my skin tone is by general lightening of my skin.

  6. says

    i love my grandma’s recipe with black fungus the most! which is the hakka braised fried 3-layered pork. YUM!!!!!!!!! not sure what’s the exact step to cook, but u need to fry the 3 layered pork first, then braised it together with black fungus, and i think must add some rice wine. yummmmmmmmmmmmmmm!

  7. aibicon says

    I read on 1 article long ago(i think its from some chinese source) about black fungus saying it helps to reduce dark eye circles! ^^ but I dont know how true is it.

    • sesame says

      Oh wow…I missed that. But I think if it helps with blood circulation, it probably will help in improving dark eye circles.

  8. Carol says

    I love both white and black fungus. I like the snow fungus with soup and the black fungus with clear vermicelli.

  9. Karisse says

    I umm..need your help. My face, hands and legs are darker when compared to my neck and other parts of body.It looks weird, totally. I want an even fair it possible? Btw, I’m an asian.My girlfriend believes that tcm food help achieve fairer complexion, is it true?

    • sesame says

      Yes and no. I think you can take lots of vitamin C (fruits + drinks) and be fairer. Do you go under the sun a lot or do you use sunscreen diligently on your face, neck and other parts of your body?

  10. wen says

    Hi Sesame
    It looks like your cabbage dish cooked with ear wood. Understand black fungus is a thicker and bigger piece and whereas ear wood is softer and smaller piece.

    1) What is the difference and benefits between black fungus and ear wood?
    2) Can any of these black fungus or earwood clear acne? If yes, appreciate your receipe for it.
    3) Any side effect to consume about 10 – `14 days of the black fungus soup for treating cholestrol?

  11. Joy says

    Hello Sesame,

    Great recipe you gave. Yes, it is delicious, almost like the Hainanese Mix Veg (Chap Choy).

    Question is:
    Does just drinking black fungus boiled water (boiled about 1-2 hours) have the same benefits, as I don’t really like chewing on black fungus. It is too rubbery for me. Can we just drink the boiled water for benefits, will this still reap the same health benefits ?

    • Sesame says

      Boiled fungus water definitely yields some benefits…but probably less so than if you eat the fungus.

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