They’re dark brown, squishy, and smell like chocolate. I didn’t know what to expect when I made wood ear mushrooms for the first time, but I was pleasantly surprised. Once cooked, they no longer smelled like chocolate, and they had a pleasantly squishy, crunchy texture to them.
It’s hard to describe the texture. It does remind me of cartilage. Chewing on them is reminiscent of nibbling on someone’s ear. Mr. Boyfriend passed on these; he didn’t mind the mild flavor but was put-off by the texture, describing it as similar to tripe.
I found these fresh wood ear mushrooms in the refrigerated section at my local Asian supermarket. Most recipes that I’ve seen for them call for dehydrated mushrooms, but I imagine preparation is the same save for the 30-minute soak.
In recipe commentaries, I saw that people described the way they popped while they cook in a skillet. What I wasn’t warned about was the unusual screaming, singing, and screeching sounds they made in the pot.
Like most mushrooms, they have almost no flavor, even though they have a strong, sweet, chocolatey aroma when fresh. They remind me of plain egg noodles with a slippery sort of crunch. They’d pair nicely with just about any sauce, so feel free to get creative!