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Snow Mushroom

Tremella fuciformis

Snow Mushroom -- Click for larger image

At present, the flowery Tremella fuciformis is sold in the United States only in its dried form. This fungus (also called "silver ear mushroom" and "white jelly fungus") is available in two colors, white and tan. They are identical in use and taste. According to Dr. Henry Mee, an Asian-mushroom expert, the color depends on where the mushrooms were grown. These relatives of the ear mushroom Auricularia polytricha are packaged much like dried seaweed. The tissues are paper thin, with ruffled borders.

A second, premium form of T. fuciformis can also be purchased in Chinese markets. Easily recognized, they are stemless white chrysanthemum-like growths, 2 to 3 inches in diameter, usually packaged in decorated gold boxes tied with red ribbons. They have a spicy odor. Unfortunately, this is quickly lost in cooking.


Soak both varieties in hot water for 5 to 10 minutes until they expand to three to four times their original size. Cut off any fibrous material adhering to the base of the mushroom. Once reconstituted, they look like white flowers in bloom. Added to chicken soup, they provide a velvetlike crunchy textural interest. Alas, there is no flavor to these visually attractive culinary delicacies.

Chinese people enjoy them in rock candy syrup, usually served in the middle of a banquet. You will find them canned in such syrup in Chinese stores.

Snow mushrooms have been traditionally used as a tonic, a freckle remover, and a cure for female disorders. Eat them and enjoy a long and unblemished life.

Chinese Chicken Soup with Snow Mushrooms

Serves 4 to 6 as a first course

The small dried red dates add a subtle sweetness to this soup. They are available in Asian markets.

  • 1/2 ounce snow mushrooms
  • 1 whole frying chicken
  • 1 green onion
  • 3 to 4 Chinese dried red dates (hoong joe)
  • Salt to taste
  • Soy sauce to taste
  • 2 cilantro sprigs

Soak the snow mushrooms for 5 to 10 minutes in hot water. Drain and set aside.

Place the chicken in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 to 60 minutes or until tender. Halfway through, add the green onion and Chinese red dates to the soup.

Remove the chicken. Cool, then discard skin and fat. Strip all the meat from the bones. Set the meat aside. Discard the onion and red dates. Skim all fat from the broth. Flavor the broth with salt and soy sauce.

Return the meat to the soup. Add the snow mushrooms. Boil 1 minute and then simmer 3 to 4 minutes. The mushrooms should stay crunchy. Float the cilantro sprigs on top of the soup.

--Lois Der

ALTERNATE MUSHROOMS: Ear Mushrooms, Shiitake

Snow Mushroom and Fruit Dessert

Serves 4 as a dessert

This is a delightful dessert to serve after a heavy meal. Be sure to mix the snow mushrooms and the blueberries together just before serving, or the juice from the blueberries will discolor the snow mushroom.

  • 1/2 ounce snow mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 small lemon, sliced very thin
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 3 kiwi fruits, peeled and sliced
  • Vanilla ice cream

Soak the snow mushrooms in hot water to cover for 5 to 10 minutes. Drain and rinse.

Bring the corn syrup, sugar, and water to a boil. Lower heat and add the drained snow mushrooms and lemon slices. Simmer for 5 to 6 minutes. Drain the mushrooms and lemon slices in a colander. Allow them to cool.

Just before serving, mix the snow mushrooms and lemon slices with the kiwis and blueberries. Serve on top of vanilla ice cream.

--Louise Freedman