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Author Notes: Unintentionally, but conveniently Halloween-coloured, this crisp Chinese salad is perfectly autumnal with rooty and sweet notes. Based on Fuchsia Dunlop's recipe in Every Grain of Rice. I'd also added carrots as I'd seen it served this way in a family-owned Chinese restaurant in Beijing; a great idea since the carrots not only brighten the dish but sync with the firmness and mild sweetness of lotus root. And don't those lacy lotus slices look like bedsheet ghosts' cut-out eyes and mouths?
Each Sunday I post a classic Chinese salad recipe on www.jamiepea.com, which I tweak and standardize so it's all-natural (no MSG!), easy to make and enjoyable for the traditional and noob palate alike. Each recipe can be enjoyed as a "Western-style" salad, by consulting my leafy greens pairing suggestions; or of course the Chinese way, as-is as a cold starter or side dish.
Do let everyone know what your favourite salad veg pairing is, in the comments section below. —Jamie Pea
Serves 4, or 8 as a leafy salad
- 4 pieces dried wood-ear mushroom
- 1 "section" of lotus root (about 200g)
- 1 carrot
- 2 1/2 teaspoons clear rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon Chinese sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons worth of fresh ginger, peeled
- 1 sprig spring onion, sliced thinly and diagonally
- Place the dried wood-ears in a bowl and pour over some boiling-hot water to soak for at least 30 minutes.
- Make the dressing in your salad serving bowl (or, if you will be using a flat dish to serve, make the dressing in a separate small bowl): combine the clear rice vinegar, sugar, salt and sesame oil, then use a cheese grater to finely grate the ginger into the mixture. Set aside.
- Peel the lotus and trim off the ends, then slice evenly into thin coins about 2mm thick. Slice the carrots at a diagonal with equal 2mm thickness and roughly the same diameter as the lotus root slices. Bring a big pot of water to boil with 2 tsp of salt.
- Prepare another pot or mixing bowl full of cold water and set aside next to the pot. Blanch the lotus and carrot slices in the boiling water together for 2 minutes, then use a slotted spoon to transfer to the pot of cool water. Drain, refresh with more cool, running water, and leave to drain in a colander.
- Drain the wood ears, tear into smaller pieces, and combine it with the drained lotus and carrots in your salad bowl with the dressing. Toss well to coat. Taste the seasoning and add more salt if desired.
- Tip onto your most Halloweeny serving dish (or keep it in the salad bowl), and top with the sliced spring onions.
- Suggested leafy salad pairings: frisée, radicchio (extra spooky), baby beet greens.