Sunday, May 2, 2010

Nam Yue Pork & Wood Ears

Not very convincing by looks, 'wood ears' cooked with pork and nam yue is a very tasty home dish not found in restaurants.

Ew. Does look like an ear. Woods' ear. Wood ear I mean.

Not exactly pretty, wood ears are crunchy and tasteless so they take in the flavor of the ingredients they are cooked with.

'Wood ears' are fungus, like mushrooms, and they grow on wood and without much imagination, they look like ears.

A smaller, more delicate type of edible fungus similar to wood ears is cloud ears. Because cloud ears are thinner and more delicate, they are used in quick stir fries and vegetarian baos while wood ears are stewed. Both types of 'ears' are usually sold dried although the wood ears in these photos are fresh. It's the first time I cooked fresh wood ears and they turned out exactly like the dried ones except fresh 'ears' are fresher. Duh.

Many Chinese herbalists and medicine shops swear by the medical benefits of eating wood ears. Among the miracles wood ears supposedly can do for your body are lowering of cholesterol, blood pressure and the whole works it seems. Personally I eat wood ears for the crunch and the fact that they have lots of fibre and hardly any calories. So yes, like kelp, wood ears are good fillers for days when you are hungry but you weigh more than before you went on the diet and you look like a blimp even when you stand sideways.

Traditionally the meat for this dish is belly pork but if that's too oily for you, or pork isn't your kind of meat, use chicken thighs. I would leave the skin on but trim off the thick, fat-padded parts.

Nam Yue Pork & Wood Ears (serves 4) 
400 g pork belly with skin, in 2 cm-thick slices
300 g fresh wood ears (or 50-70 g dried*)
2 pieces nam yue (use less and add more later if necessary)
4-5 T nam yue sauce (the soaking liquid)
1/4 bulb garlic, unpeeled & smashed
1/3 cup water

* soak in water for 15 minutes, pick away the stems and wash several times. Tear into smaller pieces. Do same with the fresh wood ears.

1. Heat a casserole glass pot and add the pork without oil. Fry until the pork has turned white.

2. Add the nam yue, mashing them, and stir into the meat, about 1-2 minutes. Add the nam yue liquid and  stir another 1-2 minutes and then add the water, stirring to mix well. Do not add more water as the pork'll give out liquid too. Cover and let simmer for about 45 to 60 minutes (stir in between) without adding anymore water unless all the water has dried up which is unlikely with a glass pot. If using dried wood ears, add them when the pork is 90% tender. If using fresh wood ears, add them when the pork is done because the fresh wood ears can turn too soft. Stir through, let it come to a boil and switch the heat off. Let the stew sit for at least 5 minutes for the sauce to permeate the pork and wood ears.

3. Re-heat the stew and serve hot with plain rice.


Anncoo said...

I really love this dish, can eat with extra rice.

red | hongyi said...


the lunch guy said...

absolutely, love these things. i prefer cloud ears, but woods will do. sliced very thin and added to egg rolls or hot and sour soup. they go well with lily buds, too.

as far as the medicinal aspects you mention - i have a taiwanese friend i met in america. his family owns a fantastic szechuan/cantonese restaurant in the town where i am from. he swears by that and he also puts kai-lan (also known as gai lan, chinese broccoli or chinese kale) and shiitake mushrooms in the same class, for the same reason.

he says if you eat a plate of kai lan and shiitakes every few days the valves in your heart and your arteries will never get a build up of plaque. this is one reason that heart disease is not so prevalent in countries where they eat this frequently (as long as they avoid heavy amounts of the "new" foods like cheese and ice cream).

he also says that what are considered to be the harmful aspects of animal fats, especially beef and pork, are minimalized if the meat is eaten hot right after cooking. if the meats are allowed to cool, or are put aside and eaten the next day after being refrigerated (roast beef or fried chicken for instance) then your body will assimilate the bad things that these fats are supposed to have in them to a much greater degree.

the theory is if its eaten hot you digest it faster, and you pass it through your system much faster, and it never has a chance to reside in your body the way cold fats do.

you are what you eat.

Anonymous said...

That looks good :) I would like to ask do you know where I can buy good minced lamb meat in KK?

The one in Consfood I see is mostly fats.

terri@adailyobsession said...

anncoo: me too. when i was working, i'd stay back in the office for lunch if the caterer's menu had this dish for tt day:))

yi: not a good idea...

lunchguy: u impress me! i like a gweilo who's not afraid of trying new food n ingredients. i recently met some aussies n they hav tried fried bugs ("the worst is bamboo bugs"), crocodile and snake. tt's better than me!

i prefer cloud ears too. hm, i'm not sure about the eating fats tt are chilled bc my son asked me just 2 days ago, "mom, all fats are absorbed by the body bc i've never seen oil in my poo?!" so, i wonder if tt's true.

anon: i guess u must be richard? i've never bought minced lamb, or even cook with it. i usually get my imported meat from Hong Seng in damai, round the corner from coffee bean, same row as uncle biscuit. they have lots of imported stuff n their prices r lower than consfood's:)

the lunch guy said...

when i was a kid and i did not want to eat something, or we were in a restaurant and were afraid to try something new and different my dad would say never mind, you will eat again tomorrow. give it a try. and so here i am 50 years later eating just about anything at least once. for some reason i still cannot enjoy chinese food with all the stomach parts, no thanks. but weird plants and other creatures, sure.

bugs, they have a lot of that here in bkk. the only ones i like are the very large ones that are pictured here:

you eat them as you would fresh steamed artichoke leaves. pull off the wings and legs, insert, bite down gently, and force the innards out by pulling the bug out through your teeth like you would the artichoke leaf. tastes like apple sauce if you ask me. 100% protein too. the only thing to be wary of is what they may have used to kill them (spray?).

i am going to see if i can google up some research on the hot/cold fat thing.

Anonymous said...

then, what is the different between nam yue made in Shanghai and nam yue made by other kwang zhou district?

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