In my last post, I mentioned the ingredient wood ear in my vegetarian rice cake dish. For those unfamiliar with this ingredient, wood ear is a type of mushroom that are common in Chinese cuisine and medicine. While wood ear in itself is pretty tasteless, it absorbs the surrounding flavors. Its texture is crunchy, like seaweed. They are usually sold in a dry form at an Asian grocery store pre-packed and sealed.
A great source of fiber (it is composed of 50% fiber), wood ear is also rich in micronutrients like vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Wood ear is also anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and has a cardioprotective effect. Animal studies have shown that wood ear can shrink tumor size in rats and reduce blood glucose level and insulin resistance. The cardioprotective effect comes from its blood-thinning ability and its ability to reduce bad cholesterol, LDL.
One healthy way I love to cook wood ear is to make a wood ear and cucumber salad. This tangy marinade makes a great side dish.
Ingredients: (2 servings)
- 1/4 cup of wood ears (dry form)
- 1 cup of cucumbers
- 2 tsp of light soy sauce
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tbs of white vinegar or Chinese black vinegar
- 2 tbs of sugar
- 1 tsp of salt
- 1 tbs of sesame oil
- Soak dry wood ear in water for 4 hours or overnight (Note that the wood ear expands by over 100%, so be sure to place in a large container)
- Peel cucumber then cut them into thin circular slices and place on a plate
- Remove the knot at the end of each wood ear and cut the rest into long shreds, then place them with cucumber
- In a separate saucer, mix the garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and salt together to make the dressing.
- Pour the dressing onto the cucumber and wood ear and gently toss the salad
- Add sesame oil and toss. Let it marinade for an hour before serving. (This will assure that wood ear will absorb the flavor)