Among the wild vegetables, that we call aborigines of southern Taiwan, there is a kind of “Lover’s Tears” or “God’s Tears”, which can only be seen on the broken stones or weeds after the rain. This resembles the tears that fall from the sky to the ground, and hence such romantic names are obtained. And if you think that this fungus is weird, I bet you haven’t seen yet Night Elf mushroom in Sheding Nature Park.
The wild vegetable is black and crystal clear. Neither is it mushroom nor is it algae. It resembles a soft black fungus. In fact, “God’s Tears” or Nostoc commune is a terrestrial blue-green algae, and because of the appearance after the rain, normal person likes to call it “Yu Lai Mushroom”, 雨來菇 Yǔ lái gū or Rain Mushroom.
In addition, because it tends to grow on the dark and damp ground, it is also named as “earth ear”, “lichen”, and “grass fungus”.
God’s tears, Rain mushroom or even Lovers Tears – neither algae nor mushroom it is!
“Rain Mushroom” has been found in many parts of the world, and the reason why it is not easy to be found during drought is that its thallus is a hollow gel ball that can be expanded into a flat shape.
Inside thin sheath, there are many small branching structures, of which they are perforated membrane or leather during drought, and the thallus of algae is inconspicuous yellow-green or tan in color. In the environment of after-rain or humidity, there will be irregular curls, and the color of thallus also becomes dark blue or olive, making it easier to be found.
“Rain Mushroom” grows in a very special way. It can grasp nitrogen in the atmosphere on its own, without needing the nutrients provided by the land. It has no chloroplast, but it has a cytoplasm that can perform photosynthesis on its own. In an arid environment, it can be dormant for a long time, and when the situation changes, it immediately revives. Its special viability in extreme conditions, which include polar and arid regions, comes from the resilience and restoration ability of cells.
Manzhou locals treat rain mushroom as a treasure, and collect in a similar to collecting treasure way
“Rain Mushroom” which is rich in protein, multivitamin, and minerals (phosphorus, zinc, calcium, etc.) has black fungus-like appearance; but its taste contains mushrooms-like crispness. In addition, the cooking method is simple; it is very delicious either when it is blanched and rinsed to make salad or when it is stir-fried with pepper, garlic, shredded meat, and dried shrimp.
“Rain Mushroom” can be cooked together with chopped green onions and eggs to make a nutritious mushroom egg flower soup which has long become a quite distinctive terroir snack in Hengchun Peninsula and Kenting, and even there are restaurants making it into popular health dishes.
The wild vegetable which is originally collected by people in wild grass after the rain has gradually become the health delicacy loved by the modern people. Wild “Yu Lai Mushroom” cannot meet the greater demand, so some people try to breed artificially.
After back from harvesting in the wild, and then using the automatic sprinkler equipment, the people build a growth environment favoring the growth of “Yu Lai Mushroom”. The ground should also be paved with gravel, to avoid accumulating water on the ground, which will result in the rot of “Yu Lai Mushroom”.
With such a simple facility, it can make a stable production of “Yu Lai Mushroom”. This greatly improves the yield and output value.
The farming business of “Yu Lai Mushroom” which is low in the barrier and is easy to operate has immediately attracted many farmers.
Now, it has become the most special industry in Hengchun Peninsula, probably the same big as black beans or pangola grass, the other 2 important specialties in Kenting.
Sprinkler used in Manzhou to establish fertile growth environment for Yu Lai Mushroom
A good place to get a taste of lovers mushroom is the Fisherman Seafood restaurant in Baishawan. Below is the photo of the dish of lovers tear mushroom: