I use compressed auricula in two dishes: hot and sour soup, and tom kha (coconut milk-ginger) soup. Auricula is called variously “wood ear,” “cloud ear,” “tree ear,” “jelly ear,” or “black fungus,” but whatever you call it, it’s a member of the Auriculariales mushroom order, and is edible and tasty, with a somewhat slippery, chewy texture. If I was a better mushroomer I could probably find some hiding out in my extended backyard, but as it’s not one of the three mushrooms I feel comfortable enough identifying to actually harvest and eat (those being puffballs, morels, and chanterelles), I buy “compressed auricula” in boxes instead. Teeny tiny boxes. Here’s what two squares look like, before rehydration in warm water:
And after a few minutes of soaking:
And ready to use:
It’s like those little magic sea monkeys toys!