I'm always on the lookout for new summer salads, and anything that can be cooked on the grill is a big plus in my family. When I set out to make this salad, I knew from the get-go that I wanted to combine shiitakes and edamame, but how to prepare the edamame was a big question mark. Since a salad was my goal, grilling the edamame in its pods was out so instead I turned to shelled edamame. Wanting the edamame to get tender yet charred in spots, I decided to blanch it, then finish it off on a grill tray. It worked beautifully. It's a great pair for grilled shiitakes, which soak up the simple soy-sesame-ginger dressing and burst with flavor. But the finishing touch of freshly grated orange zest and sesame salt (or gomashio) is my absolute favorite part of this salad and what really makes it special. (Be sure you taste the salad before and after adding the zest and sesame salt to see what a difference they make!) Note: a shallow grill tray/pan with fine mesh or small perforations works best for grilling the shiitakes and edamame. If your shiitakes are large, they can be grilled directly on the grates. If you don't have a suitable grill tray/pan, you can use a cast-iron pan on the grill. You can also achieve similar results indoors with a ridged grill pan or cast-iron skillet. —EmilyC
Test Kitchen Notes
The flavors in this simple dish are outstanding, and individually represented with each bite. Umami is the closest I can come to describing it: the saltiness of the soy sauce, the nuttiness of sesame, a hint of spice with ginger and red pepper, and of course the sweetness that came with the orange zest. I found that leftovers, should there be any, can be made into an easy entrée or substantial lunch by adding cooked quinoa or brown rice. —chelsbest
shiitake mushrooms, wiped clean with damp cloth and trimmed
frozen shelled edamame
plus 1 tsp sesame oil (plus more for drizzling on the salad)
soy sauce (low-sodium)
finely grated fresh ginger
red chili flakes or 1 fresh thai red chile (finely minced), to taste
scallions, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
gomashio (sesame salt), to taste -- can be purchased at Whole Foods or Asian markets, or prepared (see step 7)
In a medium saucepan, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil and season with salt. Add frozen, shellled edamame, and cook for 1-2 minutes. You want to blanch but not fully cook the edamame, since they will be finished on the grill. Take pan off the heat, drain the edamame in a colander, and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Dry the edamame well in several changes of paper towels to aid the charring process on the grill.
Toss the mushrooms and edamame with a few teaspoons of vegetable oil until they're evenly coated.
Prepare dressing by whisking together rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, and chile.
Prepare charcoal grill or gas grill over moderate heat. Place mesh or perforated grill tray or pan directly on grill grates.
Working in batches if necessary, grill the shiitakes until they're tender and starting to char in a few spots, about 5 minutes, flipping a few times. Remove from the tray, then repeat with the edamame, which should only take a few minutes to fully cook and get charred. Remove from grill. Chop your shiitakes a bit if they're large.
Toss the shiitakes and edamame with the dressing, adding a bit at a time since you may not need/want the full amount. Toss until evenly coated, then stir in scallions and orange zest. Sprinkle with sesame salt, then drizzle to taste with sesame oil. Serve warm or at room temperature.
To make gomashio: Grind together 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds and 1 teaspoon sea salt in a mini food processor, mortar and pestle, or spice grinder. You're aiming for a light grind, not a powder or paste. White sesame seeds are traditional, but black sesame seeds can also be used.