Wood ear is a type of mushroom commonly eaten in East Asia, and it gets its unusual name because it looks a bit the trees it grows on have sprouted ears. Here in Japan, it's known as Kukurage (きくらげ), which literally means "wood jellyfish," and I'm guessing it got its Japanese name from the crunchy gelatinous texture reminiscent of jellyfish from the sea.
It doesn't have a ton of flavor, but its unique texture makes it a delicious addition to salads and stir-fries. In this salad, it's tossed with a nutty sesame dressing, along with scallions and cilantro for a flavorful salad that makes for a great side dish to stir-fries like mabo tofu and black pepper beef.
If you can't find fresh wood ear, this also works with other types of mushrooms such as shiitake, maitake, or enoki.
- 100 grams fresh wood ear
- 30 grams scallions chopped
- 40 grams cilantro roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds ground
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon honey
- 1 shake garlic powder
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and then add the wood ear. Let the water come back to a full boil, and then drain and rinse the mushrooms under cold water to chill. Lightly squeeze out any excess water and trim any tough bits off near the base before slicing it into ¼-inch thick strips.
- Add the wood ear to a bowl along with the chopped scallions and cilantro.
- To make the dressing, whisk the ground sesame seeds, toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, honey, and garlic powder together in a bowl until they're well combined.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat everything evenly. Adjust salt to taste. This salad is best when left to marinate for a bit, so you can make it as much as a day in advance and let it rest in the fridge overnight.