Liuzhou Laowai

Random thoughts on life in Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Friday Food 106 – Cordycep Militaris


Friday food is an occasional article about one of the more unusual food items to be found in Liuzhou that week. This week, we dine with the worms. Or not.

These pretty babies are fine examples of dried Cordycep Militaris mushrooms, known in Chinese as 虫草花, which literally translates as ‘worm grass flower’, or 北虫草, literally ‘northern worm grass’. They are neither worm, grass or flower or northern, but a type of cultivated mushroom.

cordycep militaris 2

cordycep militaris 1

The name is partly an attempt to cash in on a supposed connection with the unrelated but much more renowned and expensive Caterpillar Fungus (Ophiocordyceps sinensis). That said, in the wild, Cordycep Militaris does latch onto insect larva and slowly devour them as do the caterpillar fungi. These however are commercially produced and cultivated. No caterpillars or other creatures are involved.

Allegedly, the militaris have similar if weaker nutritional and medical benefits to the Caterpillar Fungus, but are a mere 330元/kg as compared to the 100,000元/kg the real thing can fetch.

Still they look kind of pretty, I suppose and they are rather good in a chicken or duck stew or soup. They become somewhat tasteless but have a nice texture. Any nutrients are supposedly transferred to the stew / soup and they do give it a pleasant herbal flavour and interesting colour.

Stewed chicken with cordycep militaris, potato, carrot and leek.

Stewed chicken with cordycep militaris, potato, carrot and leek.

Available in approx 100g packs of five bundles for the equivalent of ¥330/kg, so around ¥33. The lot in the first picture were ¥37. From here. If you have ¥100,000/kg to spare for the caterpillar mushrooms, cross the road to the shop mentioned in the Friday Food 48.

Update – April 24th 2015

I came across fresh cordycep militaris for the first time today. Bubugao had them. ¥25 a bunch.

Fresh Cordycep Militaris

Fresh Cordycep Militaris

Update 2018

Since I first wrote this three years ago, these mushrooms have become much more available and much, cheaper. Now around ¥30/kg, but a kg would feed the whole neighbourhood. 10g will do nicely for one dish.

. This entry was posted on Friday, January 3rd, 2014 at 7:00 am and is filed under Food and Drink, Friday Food, Updates. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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