Yunnan Province is known to be the bountiful harvest centre of all of China. A majority of country’s homegrown produce comes from this warm, sunny region. Well known products include their mushrooms, fruits of all kind, coffee, and much much more.
Yunnan is especially known for its mushrooms, boasting over 800 wild varieties!
The flip side of such diversity of mushrooms? the hospitals in Yunnan are also among the world top experts at treating mushroom poisoning. Yes, Yunnan has A LOT of poisonous mushrooms. People who are not careful easily end up in the hospital.
Certain mushrooms are reported to be hallucinogenic. This is why mushroom hot pot restaurants always tell you that you must wait until the mushrooms are fully cooked before you can enjoy the hot pot.
Here they are, in raw form! Definitely don't eat them now.
Black native “土鸡” chicken bones for the soup stock.
Time to Cook the Mushrooms
The server dumped all the black chicken and the huge tray of wild mushrooms into the pot. Then she set the timer for 20 minutes, told us to sit tight, and left.
After a few minutes one diner dipped her chopsticks into the broth. I think she wanted to taste the soup? Several voices erupted in horror, the server immediately yelled at her, and they took her chopsticks away.
While waiting for our mushrooms to cook, we each got up and went to the make-your-own sauce counter. There was a dizzying array of ingredients to choose from, such as different fresh herbs, oils, sauces, pastes, seeds, chili powders, and more. It was a bit overwhelming! I ended up going with their little picture guide (you can see the poster on top of the sauces), which worked out really nicely.
"Lychee" Croquette Tree
After we'd all made our sauces, this beautiful old "lychee" tree full of deep fried ball skewers arrived to oohs and ahhs around the table. The kids especially loved it. Each skewer could be taken off and enjoyed individually. The taste was fine, but didn't necessarily stand out.
What Mushrooms We Ate
Here is the chart showing common mushrooms found in Yunnan. The top section are normal edible mushrooms. The bottom section is poisonous mushrooms!
20 Minutes Later: Time to Partake
After 20 minutes we finally got to enjoy this beautiful blend of mushroom flavors within one soup.
It was fantastic, and such a unique experience! I'm glad to report that I didn't have any hallucinogenic visions after enjoying this fantastic soup.
Part II: Vegetables
After finishing the mushrooms, we moved onto the second half of the meal where we added the rest of the vegetables to cook in the broth.
It's best to finish most of the mushrooms before adding the veggies. This is because the veggies really change the flavor of the soup, and it will no longer just have the pure and intense "mushroomy" flavors.
As we walked out of the restaurant, we gazed upon the pictures of all the different mushroom varieties with a newfound appreciation.
It was such a unique experience! We're so thankful for our local friends who shared this place with us.
Video: Mushroom Hot Pot in Yunnan China
Here's a video summarizing my experience! Very interesting and fun to try!