Wood Ears and Cucumber Salad
By itself, wood ears don't have a lot of flavor. It is their light crunchiness that makes them so good. But wood ears have the ability to soak up the flavors of ingredients they are mixed with. So, with the proper seasonings, wood ears become a gustatory delight.To make this wood ears and cucumber salad, blanch the wood ears and toss in a dressing made with soy sauce, black vinegar, garlic, ginger, sugar, sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds. Add the cucumber, toss lightly and serve.
- 2 cups dried wood ear mushrooms
- 1 cucumber
- 1 heaping tablespoon sesame seeds
- Soak the dried wood ear mushrooms in hot water for 30 minutes to an hour until softened and doubled in volume.
- Drain. Cut off the tough portions. Tear into bite-size pieces.
- While the wood ears bathe in hot water, peel and scoop out the seeds of the cucumber. Cut into slices (what shape or size is up to you).
- In an oil-free pan, toast the sesame seeds over medium heat until golden brown and glossy with its own rendered oil.
- Make the dressing by stirring together the soy sauce, black vinegar, garlic, ginger, sugar, sesame seed oil and half of the toasted sesame seeds.
- Bring a pot of water to the boil. Drop in the rehydrated and trimmed wood ears. Leave for five minutes.
- Drain the wood ears, dump into a bowl of iced water then drain again.
- Place the wood ears in a bowl. Add the dressing and toss. The wood ears will soak up half of the dressing.
- Add the cucumber slices to the wood ears. Toss to blend.
- Sprinkle the remaining toasted sesame seeds over the wood ears and cucumber salad before serving.
The wood ears and cucumber salad can be kept in the fridge overnight in a covered container. The flavors deepen even more after the wood ears soak up as much of the dressing as they are able. It is great as a side dish. We had it with fried fish. It is also good as a snack or an appetizer. Updated from a recipe originally published in 10/15/2017