This soup tastes very good and the oyster mushrooms added a smooth and silky mouth feel to it. Thanks to this month's Little Thumbs Up event, I am reunited with Oyster Mushrooms. There was a time when I grew Oyster Mushrooms for my final year thesis on fungal genetics. My research had to do with the effect of cross breeding of irradiated mushroom spores on yield and size. The mushrooms were grown on cotton waste. I had to soak the cotton waste overnight and then squeeze the water out by hand. That resulted in blisters on both my palms. Sobs! And the smell of the cotton waste stuck with me for a few days. The squeezed cotton waste were then put into plastic bags and then the mouth of the bags were secured with cut out PVC pipes.
Before implanting the mushroom spores, I had to grow them in an agar culture made from agar-agar and taugeh (beansprouts). I bought the taugeh from the mini market and the friendly cashier thought I was going to fry them for lunch. The taugeh had to be boiled and then strained just for the water. It contains nutrients for the spores to grow. Next agar-agar powder was mixed into the water and distributed onto petri dishes. Once cooled, the mushroom spores are inoculated onto the agar-agar and left to grow. This has to be done under sterile conditions to avoid contamination by bacteria and fungus.
In my first attempt, all my petri dishes were contaminated. Huge spots of ugly greenish grey mucor grew on the agar. And I broke down in tears. I had to start all over again with the help of my friends. The next step was to inoculate the spores from the petri dishes into the prepared cotton waste bags. These bags were then placed in a room specially set up for growing mushrooms. That room was called the "Bilik Cendawan" (Mushroom Room, obviously). One time, I accidentally locked myself in the room and was rescued 15 minutes later by one of the professors who was passing by. Instead of comforting me, he chided me with a stern "Hah! Menyorok lagi!" (Hah! Hiding again!).
|Photo courtesy of Adventures of Juan Or and Mommy|
|Here bottles are used instead of petri dishes. Photo courtesy of FAO Corporate Document Repository|
|Photo courtesy of Oyster Mushroom Facebook Page|
It was a joy to see the mushrooms grow and mature. After harvesting, I had to weigh and measure the size and thickness of the mushrooms. Once the empirical results are recorded, I basically gave away my mushrooms to my classmates. Mind you, my mushrooms were very popular and there were always people eager to receive my research subjects.
All that was 24 years ago and I can't even remember the title of my thesis! Sadly, my copy of the thesis was eaten up by termites 2 years after graduation. I should have hauled it along with me when I moved to PJ.
Anyway, this soup brought back sweet memories of my days spent in the science lab. Besides Oyster Mushrooms, Shitake and Lingzhi mushrooms were also grown in the lab.
Those were the good old days. I also had friends who did research on rabbits and even cows. And there was a guy who did a thesis on chickens. And after lectures he liked to announce that he'll be going off to feed his chickens and clean the coop. Hah! Hah! That's why I chose mushrooms :)
Chicken Soup with Oyster Mushrooms
Recipe source : Phong Hong
- 2 chicken legs, thigh and drumsticks separated
- 1 medium carrot, cut into cubes
- 1 medium daikon, halved and sliced
- 1 big onion, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced
- 200g oyster mushrooms, rinsed and stems removed
- 2 chicken stock cubes (optional)/or salt to taste
- 800ml water
1. In a pot, heat some cooking oil and saute onions and garlic until onions are wilted.
2. Add carrots and daikon and fry briefly.
3. Add chicken, water and chicken stock.
4. Bring to a boil and simmer for 45 minutes or until chicken is tender.
5. Add mushrooms and simmer for about 5 minutes.
6. Serve with a dash of pepper.