Sometimes it does look like it, sometimes it doesn't. Locally in Deep Asia we fondly call "Tenga ng Daga" or rat's ear. Internationally they call it Cloud Ear Fungus. It's a delicious jelly fungus (delicious when cooked with thin noodles (sotanghon) spiced with rich and natural chicken broth or when used in Chinese mixed vegetable dishes). But of itself in dried form, it tastes bland.
Rat's ears love popping up in dump dead wood, it seems, and I remember seeing them as a kid in our backyard where we piled up old planks of wood exposed to rain and the sun. I didn't touch them because dad said a lot of wild mushrooms were poisonous. I tried to cut pieces with my sharp stick (which I fancied to be a sword) and give to my cats (because they're rat's ears, you see) but for some reasons they wouldn't touch them. That proved once and for all to me they weren't really rat's ears. So why did they call them tenga ng daga?
Features and Health Uses
Anyway you cook them, they're crunchy (but not really crackling) and slippery to the tongue. It's a pleasure to munch them gently and roll them round the tongue. Oh, and they turn from brown to deep black, looking like shiny black jelly. In my favorite Chinese restaurant at SM North, I love ordering mixed vegetables and go for the glistening black mushrooms like crazy. They go well with the crunchy asparagus strips and the super tender steamed tofu that melts in your mouth. Oh my! Anyway..
Recently, they found out about its powerful anticoagulant prowess. If you have problems with excessive blood clots, then rat's ear or tenga ng daga may be your key to freedom.
It is also said to lower LDL levels in the blood (bad cholesterol is bad), and that's definitely good news for those with atherosclerosis or the building up of fat and calcium deposits on the arterial walls. So that's good heart health for you. The clinical study was done on rabbits, but a lot of us are like rabbits anyway. Kidding aside, they aver rat's ear has the same heart benefits for humans.
Just wondering--why would they test it on rabbits when rabbits love carrots and vegetables? Do they get LDL deposits on their blood vessels nonetheless?
Generally, mushrooms give you more protein than green veggies would. You also get lots of vitamins (even D Vitamin) plus iron, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus. Some even give off Vitamins B1 and B2. And that's not to mention their dietary fibers good for the colon.
How do you cook it? Cook it anyway you want--sauteed, boiled, steamed. Just make sure you soak it in water when raw.