Konjac is native to Asian countries such as China, Japan, Korea and India. Its Chinese name is 魔芋, literally “devil’s taro”, it has nothing to do with devil though. Perhaps its high fibre and low calorie content will help you attain a “devil’s shape” (魔鬼身材), in Chinese it means your have a really slim and curvy body. ;-)
Commonly made into jellies, konjac is also widely used to mimic the fat of meat or some white seafood, such as the “konjac mock squid rolls”. To be honest I have no idea how squid tastes, but I imagine it to smell fishy with a gelatin-like texture. However, the vegan counterpart doesn’t smell like anything from the sea, but the texture is indeed gelatin-like. Another ingredient that I use in this dish is the Manchurian wild rice stem, called 高笋 (gaosun) or 茭白 (jiaobai). Unfortunately it is not available in the States due to the concern of fungus contamination, as this crop is cultivated with smut fungus. So if you can’t find it, use bamboo shoots to substitute or omit it.
Health Index: 3/5 (2 to 3 times a week)
Kitchen Gadgets: Frying Pan/Wok
1 Manchurian wild rice stem
½ cup dried black wood ear
2 green onions, chopped
1 tsp grated ginger
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 box of konjac mock squid rolls (250g)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine
1. Soak the dried black wood ear in enough water for 20 minutes until it’s ready to use.
2. Slice the Manchurian wild rice stem, carrots, and roughly chop the black wood ear pieces into half.
3. Heat the stainless steel frying pan for 2 minutes, turn down the heat to medium, add 1 tbsp olive oil and turn the pan to coat the bottom of the pan.
4. Add the green onion, ginger and garlic and lightly fry for 30 seconds.
5. Add the vegetables and fry for 2 minutes.
6. Add the mock squid rolls and continue stir fry for 5 minutes.
7. Add the soy sauce and rice wine, cook for 2 extra minutes, until the ingredients are golden brown.