Shiitake and Cherry Tomato Salad
Shiitake, the main ingredient, is decidedly Japanese. But the dressing is pure Vietnamese. This shiitake and cherry tomato salad is a fusion of two of my favorite Asian cuisines.Unlike most Western salads, this recipe involves a bit of cooking. Not much work, really, nor is length of time a serious issue. But the sesame seeds need to be toasted and the shiitake must be cooked until it acquires a texture that is a perfect balance of tenderness and chewiness before the rest of the ingredients can be tossed in.
- Cut off and discard the stems of the shiitake.
- Wipe the shiitake caps with a paper towel then use a sharp knife to make shallow slashes on top (this will help the mushrooms soak up more of the dressing later). Halve the mushrooms if they are on the large side.
- Peel and finely slice the shallot.
- Halve the cherry tomatoes.
- In an oil free frying pan, toast the sesame seeds until lightly browned and nutty in aroma. Set aside to cool.
- Drizzle the sesame oil to coat the bottom of the pan.
- Spread the shiitake on the bottom of the oiled pan and sear, about 30 seconds per side.
- Pour about a quarter cup of water over the mushrooms, turn the heat to low, cover the pan and cook the mushrooms until the water has dried out.
- Transfer the mushrooms to a shallow bowl.
- Mix together all the ingredients for the dressing. Drizzle over the mushrooms. Toss well. Cover the bowl, pop into the fridge and let the mushrooms marinate in the dressing for at least 30 minutes.
- Take the mushrooms out the fridge, add the cherry tomatoes and sliced shallot, and toss.
- To serve, sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and, optionally, torn fresh cilantro.
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