Monday, August 17, 2009
Tenga ng Daga (Auricularia polytricha)
I have a soft spot for tenga ng daga or tainga ng daga mushrooms, because of their charming name (means "rat's ears") and, in addition, because they once grew on my bathroom door. They have made brief appearances here and here on this blog. In English, they are known as cloud ear fungus, black wood ear, or tree ear. They are called bukni in Cebuano.
I have, in the past, collected them mostly at the stage where they still do resemble ears, like the photo below.
Only during the past month's rains and floods did I get to collect those that look like the dramatic hem of a flamenco dancer's skirt-- one with an overzealous seamstress.
Outside my window is the side of the house, one area that is always moist, mosquito-filled, and full of branches. Early this year, we began pruning the eucalyptus, mahogany, is-is, and balete trees, and their branches dumped by the wall. These branches have now compacted a little bit, retaining enough humidity to welcome the tenga ng daga, which grow well in the heat but can survive a little bit of cold.
I have also removed some from rotting things like stools and benches. I was sorry to delay a bit the decomposition of the broken furniture, but confident that they will get there soon enough. If the sun comes up and your mushrooms dry up, worry not, as I have seen them seem quite dried up and dead when the rains stop, then start to come alive and grow plump once it starts pouring again.
In the Philippines, we often eat them as relatively chunky pieces, like the Chinese. In Japan, a close relative is sliced neatly into strips.These mushrooms have a quality accurately described by many sources as cartilaginous, providing some kind of crunch followed by an interplay of tiny squeaking and... jellyness against your teeth. I say tiny because the mushroom is quite thin, and you are likely to notice the crunch aspect more, but move it around with your tongue while it is still whole, and you will see what I mean. Anyway.
Most of the tenga ng daga that we eat comes dried from China, and some say Indonesia. I have not come across fresh ones being sold here. They are cultivated commercially on sawdust. We have the capacity to forage and cultivate much more. I am, at this point, a bit too lazy to get into mushroom cultivation, as it seems very technical and maselan to me. I get "wild" ones just fine.
The mushrooms are supposed to be good for circulation, for menstrual problems, sore throats, and more.
Posted by Bea