Tremella mesenterica, also called yellow brain, yellow trembler, golden jelly fungus and witch's butter, is an orange-yellow colored edible jelly fungus found in the tropical and temperate regions of Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia and America. It finds use in a range of culinary preparations like casseroles, soups and stir fry dishes.The fungus is a parasite of a wood decay fungi, and is hence found attached to fallen branches of trees.
The shape of the fungus is irregular, and measures upto 7.5 cm across and 2.5 to 5 cm in height. The fruit body has a gelatinous but firm texture when wet, and hardens on drying.
The rubbery or gelatinous texture of Tremella mesenterica makes it a good choice for preparing soups. It is used in salads, soups and stir fry dishes in China, where jelly fungus is considered to improve circulation and breathing. The mushrooms are also used to impart a snappy texture to casserole dishes.
Popular Cooking Methods
The mushrooms are cooked by sautéing, stir-frying, boiling or braising. They may be baked to make mushroom casserole dishes.
Popular Yellow Brain Recipes
- Mushroom Soups: The mushrooms are often used to prepare soups, by cooking them with ingredients like garlic, onions, broth and flavoring herbs. In China, the mushroom is used to make a cooling soup with other ingredients such as lily bulb, lotus seeds and jujube.
- Asian Stir Fries: Stir fry dishes can be made with yellow brain mushrooms in combination with vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, asparagus, beans, leafy greens, green onions and Asian sauces and flavoring agents. Soy sauce, vinegar, Asian chili sauce and honey, ginger and garlic are some of the commonly used flavoring ingredients for such recipes.
- Mushroom Casseroles: The mushrooms can be included in casserole dishes in combination with ingredients like garlic, onions, eggs, cheese, rice and seasonings. Breadcrumbs and various types of vegetables and meats are also included in different popular versions.
Tremella mesenterica is a low calorie and fat free food option that is low in sodium and free of cholesterol. Hence, it assists in weight loss, besides supplying many essential nutrients to the body.