Elwood 5566

Lion’s Mane Mushroom – Monday Market (노루궁뎅이 버섯)

Posted in Food and Drink, Monday Market (Theme), plants and trees by 노강호 on February 29, 2012

the impressive Lion's Mane Mushroom - aka Pom Pom Mushroom

The strange shape of this mushroom, which I’ve only seen once, immediately attracted my attention though the ones I bought are nothing as spectacular as ones that can be found in the wild. The Lion’s Mane Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus, is also known as the Bearded Tooth Mushroom, Satyr’s Beard, Bearded Hedgehog Mushroom and the Pom Pom Mushroom. In the more spectacular examples, ‘pom pom, is an apt comparison.

spongy

The size of this mushroom varies from that of a golf ball to not much less than a regular football and its natural habitat is on the side of trees. The mushroom is particularly prized when small as it has a seafood texture and taste and is sometimes compared with lobster. The mushroom has a long history of medicinal use in the Orient and is currently of interest in the treatment of Alzheimer’s.

and watery

I had no idea what to expect or the best way to cook them so I simply fried slices in sesame oil. I was surprised by their weight as they are are heavier than they look and neither are they solid having substantial ‘air pockets’ inside. Indeed, in terms of cutting and feel, they are both spongy and watery. I didn’t find their taste particularly memorable though they were extremely succulent but because this was a first experience, I didn’t what to expect. Now I know a little about them, I’d like to try them again. However, currently, they are more expensive than lobster. Two, each between the size of a golf ball and tennis ball, cost 2700W (about £1.50); my last lobster cost 6500W (£3.25).

Here is a Youtube video by Don King,  a mushroom hunter…

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©努江虎 – 노강호 2012  Creative Commons Licence.

Sucking a Crystal Failed to Realign my Wonky Teeth (Kombucha and Pas 파스)

Posted in Bathhouse, bathhouse Ballads, Health care, oriental Medicine, tea (cereal, herb) by 노강호 on February 27, 2011

commercial kombucha

Podcast 73

You can probably buy them back home, I’ve never looked, and you can certainly buy something similar in spray form. Medicines work better when you haven’t a  clue what they do. The addition of a language you can’t read plus the fact the ‘medicine’ is traditional, and we all know the allure of oriental traditions in western culture,  lends a mystique to the product in which we tend to put more faith than in western medicine, and in which some put excessive faith. Of course, there may be some truth in the power of positive thinking which can boost our health and possibly rid our bodies of cancers and impurities so, I don’t want to be too dismissive of products which help to wish yourself well.

a wide choice of ‘pase’ (파스)

So, for the last month I’ve been laid up with painful knees caused by too many trips down the local mountainside. My injuries stem from October, shortly after an eye infection (red-eye) stopped me using the gym and bathhouse. Instead, I took to the mountains and overdid it and because I go down uneven ground, left-leg leading, I’ve had persistent problems with that knee. The bout of red-eye I contracted began on the very evening of the autumn festival (ch’u-sok), so it was only to be expected that the problems with my knees would flare up on the very eve of the Lunar New Year.

as advertised on TV

Then I was recommended these large patches (파스) that you basically stick  wherever you have a pain. You can buy them in any chemist where they are available in different sizes. And though I can’t read what the patches are supposed to do, I am confident that the miraculous powers of crystal crap are at work. Not only do some of the patches chill the area under them, numbing any pain, but they smell like they might work. There are many different brands and while some are impregnated with conventional analgesics, others seem to be based on oriental formulas or possibly an east meets west medicinal fusion a little similar to pizza and jam or don gasse and tinned fruit. On my second night of wearing them, I went to bed looking like something from Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb, and on every area of my body where I had an ache or soreness, and I discovered a few, I stuck  a plaster. I was sure they were working, that was until my doctor (of western medicine) told me all theywould do is reduce pain and totally lacked any further potential.

wtf?

Where the cold light of science doesn’t shine to dismiss the incredible, we find sanctuary and it’s amazing the things we will subject ourselves to once we’ve taken solace in the concept – which is really no different from religion. A few years ago I spent 18 months brewing a living jelly mold in a warm, dark corner of my house. Every few days I would tap off  the liquid on which it floated. Kombucha is a drink believed to have numerous health benefits if drunk on a regular basis but it is difficult to prompt a thirst for it when it’s basically moldy water. However, in fairness, it was palatable and a cross between a mild vinegar and apple juice. It is also mildly alcoholic (0.5%). I have since tried commercial kombucha and it was very refreshing, if not expensive. Kombucha tea is easy to grow and you can birth yourself a batch with a cup of cold, sweetened tea and within a month or so, you too can have a ‘mother’ sized jelly pancake from which you can make other batches at an accelerated rate. I have also heard of people eating the mold, also known as a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast), by frying it. I found it too gelatinous and phlegmy to enjoy. Interestingly, kombucha has a long history throughout various parts of the world, including Russia, Japan and Korea. Indeed, according to Wikipedia, the name ‘kombu’  may have derived from Korea and mold in Korean is kom-bang-i (곰팡이).

a kombucha ‘scoby’ which provides the culture for future offspring

a ‘scoby’ looking somewhat scabby

My faith in both the kombucha and passe patches (파스) of the non-analgesic variety is borne out of my faith in the mystical powers of eastern medicine and it is the same faith which spurs crystal crap in general as well as the wider interest in Feng Shui (known in Korea as 풍수). The one problem with alternative medicine is that credible practices are lumped together with totally loony ones. I am skeptical, but selectively so and for example; with muscle aches, strains and sprains, or joint problems, I go to an oriental doctor before a western one. Crystal crap however, just seems to lack credibility. I have had several friends give me small crystals with instructions on where to place them and then been told they would ‘heal me’ or help promote ‘good health.’ What I find rather amusing is that in the west such crystals are always pretty and do make lovely ornaments, if that’s your thing, but no one ever suggests you to put a lump of charcoal by your bed, and charcoal is used in Korean bathhouses, and no one ever tells you to use something ugly like coal or a chink of flint.  And neither would I mind being recommended some crystal therapy with an ounce of jade except for the fact I’ve bathed and saunaed in, and slept on a couple of tons of it. Every time I go to the bathhouse I end up bathing in one pool or another, or one sauna room where the walls are made from something, jade being the most common, which is supposed to benefit the body,  yet  I seem no more benefited by such elusive powers than someone who has never set foot in a bathhouse. Perhaps I lack the faith to will myself well when it comes to crystals but, until sucking a crystal can rectify a badly rotted set of teeth, I will retain my scepticism.

homemade kombucha, actually, quite palatable

Yes, the patches reduced pain and the the kombucha was fun to make and tasted okay!

Chinese names for kombucha include:

红茶菌 – red fungus tea

红茶菇 – red mold tea

茶霉菌 – tea mold.

In Japanese it is known as ‘red tea mushroom‘ – 紅茶キノコ

Interested in kombucha – click this link.

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© 林東哲 2011 Creative Commons Licence.

Monday Market – King Oyster Mushroom – 새송이 버섯

Posted in plants and trees, Technology, video clips by 노강호 on February 10, 2011

oyster mushrooms growing wild – difficult to find, easy to cultivate

In Britain, we tend to have both mushrooms and toadstools. ‘Toadstools’ is a term, though not exclusive in its use, to describe those cap bearing ‘mushrooms’ which are inedible or poisonous. Unfortunately, many toadstools are indeed edible and there are a number of examples I am competent enough to pick and eat. One of my favourites, which grows and is eaten in Korea, is the parasol mushroom (갓 버섯 – lepioptera procera). In England, this wonderful mushroom is prolific but few people pick it and it is unavailable in shops.

young parasol mushroom – unmistakable

Koreans, like many other European countries, are much more adventurous in their culinary and medicinal use of fungi and a wide range of exotic mushrooms are available. The king oyster  mushroom (새송이 버섯 – pleurotus eryngii) is common  in markets and supermarkets and is also known in Britain as the king trumpet mushroom or French horn mushroom. In Korea it is a common ingredient in stews and a favourite skewered between meat and onion. Though not particularly flavoursome, when cooked it has a meaty, abalone-like texture. Though difficult to find, as they often grow under forest ‘debris,’ they are easy to cultivate.

an oyster mushroom farm

Baby oysters are excellent in soups and stew and freeze easily

Korea is one of the leading producers of  the king oyster mushroom and grown in temperature controlled environments with air cleaning, water de-ionizing and automated systems,  farming is high-tech.  One of the most successful producers is Kim Geum-hee who now owns six high-tech farms producing over 5 tons of mushroom daily.

Kim Geum-hee a pioneer in the art of mushroom farming

Kim Geum-hee is an adorable character and one of Korea’s outstanding agriculturalists. I fell in love with her personality after just one video  partly because the added translations are a little ‘studenty’ but ironically enhance the videos imbuing  them with an enchanting cuteness.

meaty

“Photo by Catie Baumer Schwalb, pitchforkdiaries.com, used with permission.”

The videos about her success are interesting and well worth watching. ‘Kim Geum-hee ‘had a dream about mushroom,’ and later, ‘after graduating fell in love with mushroom.’ Oh, dear, I have bad thoughts.  When I see a room full of cap-type mushrooms I can’t help being reminded of penises. I’m sure many other westerners would have the same response and besides, the stinkhorn’s botanical name is phallus impudicus and before it  was biological classified it was known as, ‘fungus virilis penis effige‘ ( Gerard, 1597).  It’s not just me! You can poke a Korean in the eye with even the most phallic of fungi, of which there are a number of amazing varieties, and not the slightest link will be made to a penis. To Koreans that offensive fungi is simply a mushroom!

There are some excellent ways to use the king oyster mushroom:

Pitchfork Diaries

Ptitchef

Vegan and Korean

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© 林東哲 2011 Creative Commons Licence.

Magic Mushrooms – The Mantle Mushroom (망태 버섯)

Posted in plants and trees, seasons by 노강호 on December 17, 2010

I rarely go anywhere without my camera and could guarantee that when it wasn’t in my bag I’d be confronted with something that needed capturing. Needles to say, last week, camera-less and in the mountains such an incident occurred. I’m fascinated by mushrooms and toadstools and back home in the UK have learnt to identify a number of interesting varieties with enough precision that I am happy foraging and eating the edible ones. My favourites are probably the Parasol Mushroom (큰갓 버섯), Shaggy Ink Cap and Puff Ball. I’ve seen Parasol Mushrooms (큰갓 버섯) several times in Korean mountains but never Puff Balls. I’ve never seen any of these mushrooms in markets but know the Parasol Mushroom is eaten as it is listed in one of my Korean recipe books.

 

Shaggy Ink Cap

 

emerging Parasol Mushrooms (큰갓 버섯)

 

Although I’ve seen numerous varieties of stinkhorn, only ever in northern Germany, I have never seen any of the netted versions and do not think such types grow in the UK. When I caught a glimpse of vivid yellow in the undergrowth and discovered four pristine Netted (or Mantle) Stinkhorns (망태 버섯), I cursed myself for having no camera. Make no mistake about it!  Stinkhorn mushrooms, even though edible, have a strong and rotting stench that will easily make you retch. Their purpose is to lure flies to that  obscene helmet where they will trudge about picking up spores on their feet which they subsequently help disseminate.

 

The Common Stinkhorn (as found in Europe)

 

The Korean ‘mang tae’ mushroom is somewhat Gothic when cloaked in its bizzare mantle.

 

A Korean Mantle Mushroom (망태 버섯) Click photo for source

 

totally bizarre (click photo for source)

 

encountering this mushroom was a magical experience (click photo for source)

 

massed mantles (click photo for source)

 

Acknowledgments –  the source of all photos can be traced by clicking on the actual photos.

 

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© 林東哲 2010 Creative Commons Licence.