I count myself lucky that I grew up in a place where Chinese food is plenty and the norm. Whenever we visited Chinese restaurant, 9 out of 10 times, my parents would order a cold platter as a starter. This usually comes with multiple varieties of cold cuts and the centerpiece is usually some sort of salad, generally either jelly fish salad or wood ear salad. I love both versions, but since this blog is dedicated to vegetarian dishes, I am going to share an easy recipe to recreate wood ear salad in your kitchen.
You can use fresh or dried wood ear mushrooms for this recipe. If you use dried ones, you will need to soak them in plenty of water to re-hydrate the mushrooms into their puffy state. I love wood ears, so I usually have a huge pack sitting in my pantry, and I would soak them in water whenever I like to add a little to my stir fries, soup, or salad. A little goes a long way, I only need 25 grams of dried wood ear for this recipe. It may sounds so little, but once fully soaked, that 25 grams turn into a whopping 4 cups of fluffy mushrooms! Even for an avid mushroom eater like my family, we consume only 1-2 packs per year.
The next thing to do once the mushrooms are puffy is to boil them for about 5 minutes, then wash under running cold tap water to cool them, dry (a salad spinner works wonder here), and finally mix with the salad dressing, and let the whole thing sits in your fridge for at least 2 hours before serving. This can probably stay fresh for 1 week in the fridge, but I usually finish the whole thing in a day or two. Prior to serving, stir again so the dressing is evenly distributed, and then plate it into nice salad plates, or even serve the salad in cute glasses for an event. Scallions or cilantro makes for a nice garnish. I like both, but everyone else in the house votes for scallions, so scallions it is.
- 25 gram dried wood ear mushroom
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1½ tablespoon black vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 3 garlic, minced
- 2-3 bird eye chilies, remove seeds (optional) and finely chopped
- 1 scallion, green parts only, thinly sliced
- Soak wood ear mushrooms in plenty of cold water for 2-3 hours. You should get 4 cups of re-hydrated mushrooms.
- Strain the mushrooms, place the mushrooms in a pot along with plenty of cold water to fully submerge the mushrooms. Bring to a boil, and cook for 5 minutes once boiled.
- Meanwhile, make the salad dressing. Combine soy sauce, black vinegar, sugar, and sesame oil in a bowl. Stir until sugar is fully dissolved. Then add minced garlic and chopped chilies, mix well.
- Once the mushrooms are cooked, strain and wash under cold running water to cool them. Wring out as much excess water as you can from the mushrooms, a salad spinner works wonder here.
- In a mixing bowl, combine mushrooms with salad dressing, gently mix to coat well. Wrap the bowl with a saran wrap and cool in the fridge for 2 hours prior to serving.
- Just before serving, add thinly sliced scallions to the salad, stir again to evenly distribute the dressing, and plate into individual portions.