Vegetarian Chicken Mu Er


1 whole red chili, seeds removed
6 cloves garlic
2 inches piece ginger
2 teaspoons chicken powder (you can substitute with vegetable boullion)
1 1/2 cups TVP (Textured Vegetable Powder)
1 tablespoon oil for frying
1 cup woodear black fungus (" Mu Er")
1 tablespoon oyster sauce (or to taste)
1 teaspoon light soy sauce (or to taste)


Put the first four ingredients in to the magic bullet blender or regular blender, and mix until like a smoothie.
Boil the water, add the chicken powder and stir until the bouillon is dissolved. Add the TVP and make sure you press it down so that all the TVP is in the water. Leave for about 10-15 minutes to ensure the TVP soaks up all the liquid and becomes rehydrated. It will expand dramatically.
Heat a wok or large frying pan until very hot. Add 1TBSP vegetable oil until smoking hot. Add the preserved tofu and as you fry, mash it with your spoon.
Add the chili, garlic, and ginger "smoothie" and stir well. You may wish to put the exhaust fan on at this point.
Add the rehydrated TVP and stir very well ensuring that the tofu and "smoothie" are mixed very well in with the TVP.
Add the mu er and stir well. Add the oyster sauce and soy sauce and stir very well. Keep stirring until the mu er is cooked through, about 5 minutes. (If you are adding green vegetables, add at this point.)
Serve over steamed rice.


I have several vegetarian followers who often write to me and ask me how they can alter a recipe to satisfy their vegetarian palette. Usually, I'll look over the recipe and give them an alternative. Lately, I have decided to experiment with more vegetarian creations and if my non-vegetarian followers choose to add meat, they can.

This meal is completely vegetarian, the only exception that I used was chicken powder, but that can easily be replaced with vegetarian bouillon.

It was truly delicious, and the meat was not missed at all. I urge you to try it in its original form at least one time to give it a try, and then if you decide to substitute the TVP with meat, you can.

TVP is textured soy protein, and while it is made from soy, it is not tofu.

TVP comes from defatted soy flour, which is a by-product of soybean oil, so it is plentiful in supply. It’s also quick to cook and a great source of vegetable protein without all the fat.

TVP comes in small dry chunks resembling, well, dried vegetables more than anything, or in a finely-ground form. It’s flavorless, but when you rehydrate it and add your own flavors, it makes a great protein-filled addition to many dishes calling for ground meat.

A 43-gram serving of TVP contains 120 calories and 21 grams of protein and hardly any fat. Since it’s so high in protein, it makes a great transition meat substitute.

"Mu er" is the Chinese name for woodear fungus (or mushrooms). It comes dried and you must soak it for a while. After it is soaked, it is very important that you wash it very well, and rinse very well also. You can sometimes find pieces of wood in the fungus, and often it will leave grit on the bottom of the bowl you are soaking it, this is why it is very important that you wash it very well.

Mu er grows on wood and that is why it can sometimes have pieces of wood in it.

While I did not add any green vegetables tonight, I think that adding some Chinese vegetables like kai lan or choy sum, sliced would be very nice. Alternatively, you can also add washed baby spinach.

Sure hope you enjoy this dish as much as we did.


4 servings


Thursday, March 10, 2011 - 2:37pm


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