Mushrooms are common ingredients in Vietnamese cuisine. Being on the recommended list of nutrition experts, mushrooms consist of rich nutrients with health benefits. In Vietnam, there are many varieties, depending on each region’s characteristics.
Have you ever wondered what kinds of mushrooms are popular in Vietnamese cooking?
Straw mushrooms (also called paddy straw mushrooms) belong to the largest mushroom-forming fungi called the Agaricales family that grows and develops from straw. That explains their name’s origin.
This can be considered the most well-known and common mushroom in Vietnam. If you visit the country, there are rice fields stretching till the end of the skyline along the National Highway or on the roads passing Western provinces. There, you can easily spot the golden straw stacks, two to three meters high, scattered on the paddies after the harvesting season. The purpose of those piles of dried stalks is to cultivate straw mushrooms.
It has a smooth, spongy small cap with a soft, mild stalk with dark gray hints under bright light. It is much more affordable in Vietnam due to its popularity.
In cooking, straw mushrooms are used in many soups (along with Malabar spinach soup, luffa, carrots, etc.), or braised dishes (pork, chicken meat, eel, fish, etc.), even hot pot. Medicinally, they are also in several food remedies.
Shiitake (also known as aromatic mushroom) is often praised by Vietnamese as “the queen of plants” or “king of vegetables.” Those big titles are given based on their excellent nutritional values and health benefits.
When cooked, its color changes into an eye-catching dark brown and it has a lovely fragrant. Its round cap looks like umbrellas. When eaten, it gives a flavorful taste with a light hint of richness and sweetness.
As popular as straw mushrooms, shiitakes are frequently used in Vietnamese cuisine with other ingredients, in a stew or soup.
Black wood-ear mushroom
Wood-ear mushroom (also known as tree ear or cat ear mushroom) is also common in Vietnam.
It tastes sweet and has a chewy and springy texture. It is inherently dark gray before being dried, and it turns black after the process. Only then is it ready to hit the market.
Wood-ear mushroom is an must-have ingredient for Ching Bo Leung (a Chinese style dessert), or the filling of spring rolls and stuffed bitter melon.
Snow fungus (also known as snow ear, silver ear fungus or white jelly mushroom) is named the food that brings “immortality”. It was once rare and only reserved for high-ranking authorities. Now, this edible fungus is prevalent in Vietnam.
It is nearly tasteless, but its texture is crunchy, which gives an exciting eating experience. Usually, people dry snow fungus before selling it on the market.
Snow fungus is often used for vegetable soup, crab soup, and lotus seed sweet soup or Ching Bo Leung.
This mushroom has plenty of names, such as Ganoderma lingzhi, elixir plant, longevity mushroom, and thousand-aged mushroom. It has two popular varieties: brown and white. In the old days, it was even rarer than ginseng. Hence, it was the offering that only aristocrats could enjoy. Nowadays, reishi is much more common in the world, including Vietnam.
Its taste is gently mild sweet, while its texture is soft and a bit chewy. It’s usually added to mushroom or sour hot pots, as well as soup or stir-fried dishes.
Above is the list of popular mushrooms in Vietnamese cuisine. If you have a chance to visit the country in the future, try some of this dish to experience the freshness and savory of Vietnamese dishes.
This post is also available in: Tiếng Việt