Chinese Braised Mushrooms & Black Moss Recipe (冬菇髮菜)

Chinese Braised Mushrooms & Black Moss (a.k.a Fat Choy) is a classic and traditional dish during Chinese New Year and one of my top most favourite festive dishes! This dish holds dearly to me because, not only is it my favourite Chinese New Year dish, but it’s also one of my most favourite dishes from my grandma. She just makes it so good and hers is always the best one when compared to eating out at restaurants. Having moved away from home, I’ve always wanted to keep the tradition alive and came up with my own Chinese Braised Mushrooms & Black Moss recipe.

This dish may not look the most visually appealing nor do the ingredients seem to be the most popular items you’d find in the west. Nevertheless, trust me it’s one incredibly delicious dish that you’d love. When I was young, I used to joke that the black moss is like hair and that I’m eating hair – I’m pretty sure every Chinese kid had that phase at some point and joked about that!

What is Chinese Black Moss/Fat Choy (髮菜)

A block of dried Chinese black moss

Fat Choy is a form of dried vegetable that grows specifically in the Gobi Desert and the Qinghai Plateau (Tibetan/Himalayan Plateau). Its Chinese name “髮菜” translates as “hair vegetables”. This is because it looks like a bundle of black hair! Not very appetising by the looks of it – I know. You need to soak it beforehand to soften it before cooking which makes it look more like super fine vermicelli for consumption.

Over the years, over-harvesting wild Fat Choy has caused erosion and desertification to the lands. Grown on dried desert lands, wild Fat Choy plays a huge role in preserving water and preventing desertification. They don’t grow in huge abundance, and mass harvesting them has led to the lands eroding detrimentally. This has led to the Chinese government banning any wild harvest and export since 2000. The Fat Choy you see today is either artificially grown or cultivated from seaweed. You should be able to find them at some oriental supermarkets.

A plate of Chinese braised mushrooms with Black Moss, garnished with spring onions

Does Chinese Black Moss have a special meaning?

In Chinese culture and tradition, people like to create dishes that share similar phonetics to auspicious phrases. Fat Choy (髮菜), i.e. Chinese black moss, shares similar sounds to “get rich” (發財). Therefore it’s a popular item to include on the Chinese New Year menu. The dish is also typically cooked with dried oysters, creating the name “Fat Choy Dried Oysters”, which shares similar phonetics to the phrase “struck it rich and prosperity” (髮菜蠔豉 vs 發財好市).

On another note, though the use of dried oysters is very popular for Braised Chinese Mushrooms thanks to its phonetics, I personally like using dried scallops instead as you can see from my recipe below. I don’t mind dried oysters but they are a little harder to come by. Dried scallops are also more versatile so I tend to have them stored in my pantry as opposed to dried oysters which I won’t don’t use often. It may have taken out the “good prosperity 好市” part for phonetic auspice but you still get the “get rich 發財” part from the black moss/fat choy!

How to make Chinese Braised Mushrooms with Black Moss (Fat Choy)

Ingredients You Need

  • Black Moss (Fat Choy)
  • Chinese Dried Shiitake Mushrooms – flower mushroom or winter mushroom (花菇/冬菇)
  • Chinese Dried Scallops (Conpoy)
  • Ginger
  • Light & Dark Soy Sauces – for marinating the mushrooms & cooking
  • Oyster Sauce – for marinating the mushrooms & cooking
  • Cornflour
  • Sesame Oil
  • Cooking Oil – vegetable/sunflower oil
  • Sugar
  • Salt – to taste
  • Spring Onions

Recipe Tips & Notes

  • Generally, you can just cook this dish in a regular pot but I’d highly recommend using a clay pot if possible. Clay pot really helps to lock in the moisture and flavour. The earthy taste and aroma that comes from its earthen material add another flavour depth dimension to the dish.
  • Here’s grandma’s secret #1 – choosing high-graded dried shiitake mushrooms. Flower Mushroom (花菇) is known as the top grade and offers an incredibly thick & meaty texture. A common alternative is Winter Mushroom (冬菇) which is cheaper but still thick and meaty enough to be the star of the dish.
  • Either type of dried shiitake mushroom should be available at most oriental supermarkets. You should look for those with thick caps and with rounded edges curling inwards as opposed to flat ones.
  • Grandma’s secret #2 – don’t skimp on the soaking & marination. The soaking & marinating process ensures the maximal amount of flavours are being released as well as attaining a smooth meaty texture for the mushrooms.

Looking for more Chinese recipe inspo? Check these out too:

A plate of Chinese braised mushrooms with Black Moss, garnished with spring onions

Chinese Braised Mushrooms & Black Moss (Fat Choy)

ET Food Voyage
An adapted recipe to making Chinese Braised Mushrooms & Black Moss (Fat Choy), a classic celebratory dish during Chinese New Year
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine Cantonese, Chinese
Servings 4 servings


  • 2 tbsp Cooking Oil
  • 10-15 g Ginger peeled & sliced
  • 25 g Chinese Black Moss (Fat Choy) soaked
  • 100 g Dried Shiitake Mushrooms (Flower Mushroom or Winter Mushroom) reserving ½ cup soaking water (see prepping instructions)
  • 2-3 Dried Scallops reserving ¼ cup soaking water (see prepping instructions)
  • 3 stalks Spring Onions separating white and green parts (see prepping instructions)
  • 1 tbsp Light Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Dark Soy Sauce
  • tbsp Oyster Sauce
  • ½-1 tsp Salt to taste
  • ½ cup Water

For marinating the Mushrooms

  • 1 tbsp Sesame Oil
  • 1 tbsp Cornflour
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Oyster Sauce
  • ½ tbsp Dark Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Light Soy Sauce


Ingredients Prep:

  • Briefly rinse the mushrooms and soak the mushrooms in a bowl of water ideally overnight until softened and expanded in size.
  • Remove stems and transfer the mushrooms to a separate bowl. Reserve at least ½ cup of the water used for soaking the mushrooms.
  • Mix in the mushroom marinade ingredients. Give each mushroom a squeeze and massage to let the marinade get in. Set aside to marinate for 20 minutes.
  • For the dried scallops, soak in ¼ cup of water for 30 minutes until softened. Reserve the water used for soaking. Shred up the scallops into thin threads.
  • Soak the Chinese black moss (fat choy) for 30 minutes until softened.
  • Separate the white and green parts of the spring onions. For the white parts, lightly smash them using the sides of your knife. For the green parts, finely slice them and set aside for garnishing later.


  • Heat cooking oil in a large pot over high heat. Add sliced ginger and the smashed white parts of the spring onions into the pot. Fry for 1-2 minutes until fragrant and lightly charred.
  • Add in the mushrooms. Saute for 3-5 minutes.
  • Stir in both light and dark soy sauces, oyster sauce, and salt.
  • Pour in the reserved water for soaking the mushrooms. Then add in the shredded scallops together with the reserved water used for soaking.
  • Bring to a boil then add the black moss (fat choy). Toss to mix everything together.
  • Add water and turn to medium-low heat. Cover with lid and let braise for 30 minutes.
  • Add a splash of water if the mixture has got too dry. Alternatively, let cook for longer if it's still too liquid.
  • Toss in sliced green parts of spring onions until they start to wilt. Serve immediately.


  • Flower Mushroom (花菇) is the highest grade of dried shiitake mushrooms, followed by Winter Mushroom (冬菇). Both mushrooms have thick and meaty caps, which are essential to this dish. 
  • For best results, cooking in a clay pot is highly recommended. 
Keyword Chinese New Year

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