This is edible wild mushroom (uong or u-ong), variably called uong-kalaw, uong-bunton, uong-kimat, or uong-managadu. Uong-kalaw because some folks say this mushroom might be produced or induced by the bird called kalaw (in what way I really don't know, anyway). Uong-bunton because it usually grows around some anthills (bunton) or "termite queendoms" or on moist reddish and clayish earth. And uong-kimat and uong-managadu because it really is induced by lightning and they grow and sprout abundantly in the night after a rainy, thunderstorm-y afternoon or dusk, to be picked in the early morning.
This one kind of wild mushroom is perfect for soups with leafy greens like saluyot, paria (bittermelon) especially the wild ones called paria ti bakir or paria a balang, marunggay, camote, kalunay or kuantong (spinach), or any other edible tops and shoots and young leaves an Ilokano can imagine.
The sweet wild uong broth is so savory and so tasty it's as if it is what vetsin or MSG or umami is made from. I also like the slippery saluyot-like texture of this particular mushroom. Which just suits well with green leafy veggies with somewhat coarse or rough texture like saluyot itself and that of the leaves, stalks and shoots of utong (string beans, also called cowpea). It also blends well with nasabeng a bulbulong or greens with a peculiar smell of tartness or sharpness (napas-eng) like that of marunggay and young alukon leaves and again, string bean leaves.
This time, I decided a mushroom and string bean leaves combination. Freshly picked utong leaves are in abundance in the market along with this seasonal wild mushrooms.
You'll have to clean and wash the mushrooms thoroughly but do not squeeze them thoroughly else all that sweetness and tastiness of its succulence will be sucked out. Remove all traces of dirt or earth and wash and rinse it in running tap water. Also, as this kind of mushroom is prone to attack by some unsightly and very tiny pinkish and whitish worm, inspect the mushrooms for they might be starting to grow in there, between the filmy strands (called "gills") under the mushroom cap. "Older" mushrooms (those fully grown) which are starting to wilt or wither are suspects of being invaded by these worms, they even dig themselves in the stem.
A mushroom soup should not be too salty so put in just a mild amount of bugguong in the boiling water. Some do not like bugguong in their mushroom soup at all because they claim the bugguong will overwhelm the broth and it will become "naangdod" or smelly/bugguong-y; you can use just table salt, if you prefer. Or just put in a few drops of bugguong juice just for the heck of it to be called inabraw or dinengdeng the Ilokano way (nabugguongan or binugguongan).
Anyway, because of the utong tops, I need to neutralize the "sabeng" or "pas-eng" with a right quantity of bugguong sauce.
Optionally, you can put in some onion slices, some crushed garlic "teeth" for aroma and flavor. And then put in the mushrooms and let boil and simmer (in the bubbling water already flavored with bugguong). When the mushrooms are cooked, put in the utong tops and simmer for some time. Do not overcook the utong leaves, make it just crispy succulent. You can put in some tomato slices just before you serve it, if you prefer. Serve immediately.
And here's it:
Enjoy the savory soup and the slick mushroom goodness!
A closer look:
(Originally blogged November 14, 2008)