Disclaimer: This isn’t as weird as it sounds. In fact, I held back some of the ingredients in the title because I didn’t want to overwhelm you with crazy terms like wood ear and snow fungus. But don’t worry, you’re about to hear a lot more about snow fungus! As foreign as they may sound, these strange, unknown ingredients actually have a lot of health benefits in traditional Chinese medicine.
Ready to hear more? First up, wood ear. Wood ear is a mushroom fungus prevalent in Chinese herbal medicine. Not only is it low in calories (it’s summer time yo!), and is supposed to improve blood circulation. You can buy them fresh (as I did for this), or dried. They’re available at any Chinese herbal store or grocery store, but it might take a bit of searching in the grocery store. Oh and guess what! You probably have had it before, in hot and sour soup! It’s the black strips in the soup.
Snow fungus is also fascinating. It’s an extremely textured ingredient, and doesn’t have too strong of a flavor. It kind of reminds me of a sea creature! It’s boiled to an al dente texture, and helps with complexion and nourishes the lungs. It usually comes dried, and you rehydrate and then boil it. It often comes in Chinese soups and even hot pot.
Throw these two together with cucumber, some garlic, and bam! It’s like a health salad that’s full of crispy, crunchy textures and layered with rich hints of garlic and bits of spice.
ASIAN CUCUMBER + WOOD EAR SALAD RECIPE
For the salad-
- 2 firm cucumbers
- 1 pack fresh wood ear
- 2 dried pieces of snow fungus
- sesame seeds
For the dressing-
- 1 tbsp white wine or cooking wine
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp honey or sugar
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- fried garlic (this isn’t necessary, but it really rounds out the dressing. trust.)
- sichuan peppercorn oil (see the cold noodle recipe on how to make this)
To prepare the salad, cut the cucumber up into small chunks, and the wood ear into smaller pieces. To prepare the snow fungus, soak it in cold water for at least half an hour. Then, bring a pot of water to a boil, and boil the snow fungus for about 8-10 minutes, until it’s “al dente”.
The time also is really up to you- if you like a crunchier texture, boil it for less time. If you want something softer, then keep it boilin’! Cut out the cores which are kind of like the stem, and then chop up into smaller pieces.
Mix all the dressing ingredients together and give it a little taste. Add sugar or more soy sauce, depending on your preferences. Pour over the salad and enjoy!
I’m interested to hear what you think! Are you going to give this a try?