I hope I didn’t freak you out with the title of this post. What the heck is angelica acutiloba??? Well, we Chinese don’t call it like that obviously. We call it ‘当归/Dang Gui’ or ‘Dong Quai’; and it is commonly known as one of those super Chinese herbs that cures almost everything particularly for women. A must have Chinese medicine for people who are physically weak like women who just gave birth or people who had a surgery. I already knew about Dang Gui since I was a kid because it was often added in our soup and chicken dishes. It has a distinct herbal aroma and bitter in taste. I’m sure you already know about goji berry. I didn’t know that it was a super food, but my grandmother used to tell me that goji berry is good for your eyes. She also used to tell me that mushroom is good for you as it makes you grow taller.
Well, I didn’t quite believe in that theory, as you know mushrooms are contrarily short.
When I was a kid, I hated mushroom so much! It’s like whiskey and coffee, they belong to the ‘adult category’. Whenever my grandmother fed me mushrooms, she would say repeatedly that: ‘It makes you grow taller! It makes you grow taller!’ and immediately insert the spoon into my mouth. I would chew hesitatingly and swallow it with a little cold shiver, half believing and half doubting that it would ever help. Because being short had been a huge problem to me since primary school. In Malaysia we had a system that before entering the class every morning, all the pupils and students has to queue outside the classroom according to your height, which I still don’t understand why! Of course, we queued from the shortest to the tallest! For 6 years in my primary school, I had always been placed the second shortest in our class. I did not ‘achieve’ any further still during my high school era, which was really embarrassing to me to be so obviously shown as one of the shortest in class, especially when the boy I liked next door was watching. You see, not eating mushroom was not an option anymore. I needed to grow taller. But even when my mom made variation with mushrooms like stuffed mushroom with oyster sauce, I still hated it. But I would force myself to chew and swallow it without thinking how horrible it tasted.
The funny and irony thing is, now that I have entered the ‘adult category’, I really do love coffee and mushrooms! Not so much of whiskey though, because it tastes like my grandmother’s hair! The fact is, my grandmother always put whiskey on her hair every evening because there is a belief that it makes your hair grow. Some boys that I knew used to put whiskey on their legs as well, wishing that they would grow some hair in order to look more masculine. Well anyway imagine me growing up with the smell of whiskey coming from my grandmother’s hair, and asking me to drink that? Hell no! (sorry) For your information, as a 27 years old already, I have not grown any taller than 153cm… So tell me where did the ‘mushroom makes you grow taller’ theory come from?
Back to the recipe, as a mushrooms-loving adult, I’m using dried shiitake, dried enoki mushroom and dried black Chinese fungus together with the magical Chinese herbs angelica acutiloba and goji berries. Hmm, sounds nutritious and yummy! And it was really delicious that I needed to share this recipe with you. I hope you would try and tell me how it goes!
(Make 4 servings)
500g cooked rice
2 Dried shiitake
2 pieces Angelica acutiloba (Dang Gui)
2 slices Ginger, julienned
1 bunch Dried enoki mushrooms
1 dl/ handful of Dried black Chinese fungus
1 tbsp Goji berries
1 l Water
2 tbsp Soy sauce
2 tbsp Vegetarian Mushroom/ Oyster sauce
2 tbsp Shaoxing wine/ dried sherry wine
1 tsp Sea salt
1 tsp Sesame oil (Optional)
Dash of white pepper
1. Soak all mushrooms in warm water for 20 minutes until soft. Chopped into edible size.
2. Put mushrooms, Dang Gui, goji berry, ginger, rice and water into a deep pot, bring to boil. Let it cook for 10 minutes and keep stirring to prevent sticking from the bottom of the pot.
3. Add in soy sauce, vegetarian mushroom / oyster sauce, Shaoxing wine and sea salt. Cook until the congee is thicken according to your liking.
4. Season with sesame oil and white pepper. Served warm.
On a white plate clockwise from the top: Dried enoki mushroom, dried shiitake, angelica acutiloba (Dang Gui), goji berry. In a green bowl: Dried black Chinese fungus.Note: You can also used raw rice with this recipe (200g) but it takes more time to cook, as you need to stir constantly to prevent sticking from the bottom of the pot. My version of congee is rather quick, and I like it more watery than thick. Most people prefer their congee with rice completely broken down, but I like to keep the shape of the rice. It’s up to you!
Oh I’m hungry again.
After the dinner I still had enough to pack for tomorrow breakfast, so Asian! My Finnish husband also enjoyed this dish as much as I did, even as a breakfast! Feel free to serve with addition fried onion or garlic. Delicious!