Sunday, February 10, 2008

No.16: Black Moss Fungus (Dried Black Sea Moss)

Fatt Choy or black moss fungus as
it is more commonly known in the
Chinese language, is a primary
ingredient in Chinese New Year dishes!

1. Real fat choy is dark green in color, while the counterfeit fat choy appears black.

2. It grows deep in the ground in desert conditions in Mongolia & Northern China.

3. When soaked, this vegetable has a very soft texture which is like very fine vermicelli, and an appearance very similar to long, black human hair.

4. Some environmentalists are concerned that the harvesting of this plant, which grows up to 3 feet deep into the ground, destroys other vegetation and contributes to soil erosion.

5. The last two syllables of this name in Cantonese sound the same as another Cantonese saying meaning "struck it rich" (though the second syllable, choi, has a different tone) this is found, for example, in the Cantonese saying, "Gung hei faat choi" (meaning "congratulations and be prosperous"), which is often proclaimed during Chinese New Year.

6. Fatt choy is a terrestrial cyanobacterium (a photosyntetic bacteria).

7. Nowadays, people normally buy fatt choy to worship their ancestors, and cook it with fish belly and mushrooms for Lunar New Year feasts.

8. Real fatt choy is greenish grey and elastic after being soaked in water; the fake ones are black in colour and they tend to stick together when squeezed.

Reference: Wikipedia, SF Gate, The Standard, Cyanobacteria, Consumer Council

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