Saturday, April 7, 2018

Wood Ear Recipe - Wood Ear Salad

Two of the great perks of our mushroom club membership with the Connecticut Valley Mycological Society are our fantastic potlucks and our annual March Mushroom Madness meeting. March is certainly not mushroom hunting season in Connecticut, but many of us are already fatigued by our New England winter/spring weather and looking forward to mushroom season to start. The MMM meeting is held indoors at the Sessions Woods Wildlife Management Area in Burlington, and we get a speaker as well as serve a continental breakfast. This year we had Noah Seigel present "A Season of Fun(gi)" for a large group of members and the general public.

Our potluck contribution was a wood ear salad, made from wood ear fungus we purchased in the Boston Chinatown the week before. A benefit of belonging to other clubs in our region is that we can attend their special off-season functions, and we had joined the Boston Mycological Club for a Chinatown fungus shopping excursion with a private mushroom-themed banquet afterwards at a Chinese restaurant. We sampled nine courses at the restaurant, all featuring mushrooms. One of my favorites was the wood ear salad, which we attempted to re-create here.

The wood ears (Auricularia auricula) were purchased dried, and simply rehydrated in water. I also picked up something labeled as "snow fungus", a white jelly (Tremella fusciformis) and added it to the salad as well for a color contrast. Jelly fungi dehydrate into nearly nothing, and will absorb tons of water to return to their fresh, jelly-like consistency. Some fresh veggies and a vinaigrette dressing are added right before service. The overall salad is crunchy, squishy, tangy, and smoky from the toasted sesame oil.

Wood Ear Salad    serves 12-16

1/2 c. rice vinegar
1/2 c. water
6 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp chili-garlic paste

1 c. dried wood ear mushrooms
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 c. washed and de-stemmed cilantro leaves
1/2 c. garlic mustard micro-greens or bean sprouts(optional)

1. For the dressing, add all of the ingredients to a small saucepan and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Allow the dressing to cool.
2. Place the dried wood ears in room temperature water and allow them to soak it up for about 30 minutes. They will expand dramatically!
3. While the mushrooms are re-hydrating, prepare the veggies: peel, seed, and chop the cucumbers, wash and de-stem the cilantro, thinly slice the  red onion. Cover and chill the fresh veggies until service.
4. Clean the wood ears: You may notice a thicker area on the ears where they were attached to the wood, remove it with a sharp knife as it sometimes has some grit trapped in the mushroom flesh. Keep the pieces about the size of a quarter, so you may have to cut some pieces in half so they are not too large. Bring a pot of water to boil, and boil the cleaned wood ears for 5 minutes, then drain them and give them a rinse in cool water. Pour the cooled dressing over the wood ear mushrooms and cover, keeping at room temperature for about an hour until service. If you are not serving the salad immediately, refrigerate the wood ears.
5. Right before service, toss the dressing, wood ears, and fresh veggies together in a large bowl. Spoon into a serving bowl and garnish with the optional garlic mustard micro greens or bean sprouts.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

ARe you guys giving any talks any time soon?