In the markets of Yunnan I saw more varieties of fresh mushrooms than in any other region of China. I learned that the province produces over two hundred edible varieties, many of which reminded me of the French cep. Another kind I recognized, the oyster mushroom, is cultivated now even outside China. But the most famous of the Yunnan mushrooms is the Jizong, or the “chicken mushroom,” so called because its shape resembles a cock’s comb and because its texture is like that of chicken. Not surprisingly, it is often used in chicken recipes.
I enjoyed this dish in the Guan household, in the city of Kunming. With fresh Yunnan mushrooms I had found earlier at a nearby neighbourhood market, Mrs. Guan prepared this hearty, flavourful mushroom and chicken casserole. For this recipe, I have substituted black mushrooms, since the Yunnan variety is not often available outside of the Kunming area. The rich smoky flavour of the mushrooms is quite delicious in this dish.
Cut the meat into thin slices about
Soak the mushrooms in warm water for 20 minutes or until they are soft. Rinse under running water to remove any remaining sand. With a sharp knife, remove the stems and discard. Cut the caps in half and set aside.
Heat a wok or large frying pan until hot. Add the oil and ginger slices and stir-fry for 1 minute. Then add the chicken and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Pour the contents into a clay pot or casserole, together with the mushrooms, rice wine or sherry, soy sauces, sugar, and chicken stock. Bring the mixture to the boil, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the cover, and pour in the cornflour mixture. Cook until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Remove the ginger slices before serving.
© 1990 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.