Black Woodear Fungus Salad

This healthy black woodear fungus salad (凉拌木耳) is a classic Chinese appetizer cold dish (凉拌菜). It can also be used as a salad topping. This salad is known to improve one’s appetite (开胃) due to its tangy & mildly spicy flavours. I particularly love the fungus’ crunchy texture. Since this dish is often served chilled, it is extra refreshing when consumed during hot weather.

See Also:

Black Woodear Fungus Salad Recipe

BLACK (WOODEAR) FUNGUS – DRIED OR FRESH?

The answer is you can use either fresh or dried fungus in cooking.


This is fresh fungus from the supermarket. I love to use fresh fungus for a dish like this where I can use them all up at one go.

Fresh Black Woodear Fungus
With fresh ones, you can use them right away for cooking without needing to soak.

Dried Black Fungus

This is dried black fungus. They require soaking in a large bowl of cold water where they will expand to their original size.  I always have some dried fungus in the pantry, so I will use dried ones when I can’t find them at the supermarket, or when I only needed a small amount (e.g. as dumpling filling or a stir-fry side ingredient). I personally can’t tell the difference in taste & texture of fresh or dried fungus for this recipe.

PREPARATION OF FUNGUS

Black Woodear Fungus (Boiling)
Boil the fungus in a pot of water for 5 minutes before use.

Black Woodear Fungus (Remove the 'Knot')
Snip and discard this ‘knot’ at the base of each fungus before using as it is tough.

STEP-BY-STEP PHOTOS

Black Woodear Fungus Salad Recipe
Prepare the various components of the salad: red chilli (for colour & heat), thinly shredded ginger, minced garlic, spring onions (0r coriander), boiled fungus & salad sauce.

Black woodear Fungus Salad Sauce
The sauce is really important in this dish as fungus has practically no taste on its own, soaking up the delicious salad sauce instead. Mine is made with sesame oil, light soy sauce, vinegar, sugar …

Soybean Paste

… plus a secret ingredient, soybean paste (酱油膏). When I was doing my annual stay in Taipei, I learnt that Taiwanese used this type of soy paste a lot for their cold side dishes. I was so excited when I found this bottle of soybean sauce at Prime Supermarket. It certainly adds that savoury oomph to such Chinese cold dishes. In my early versions of recipe testing, the salad sauce with this added secret ingredient got the instant nod of approval from my family. You can substitute with oyster sauce if you can’t find soybean paste.

Black Woodear Fungus Salad Recipe
Scatter the ginger, chilli, garlic and spring onions & coriander evenly over the fungus which is spread out in a food container.

Black Woodear Fungus Salad Recipe

Then pour the sauce over and toss to coat the salad (pictured above). Alternatively, you can also cover the container with a lid and shake the contents. For best results, chill the container in the fridge for at least 2 hours for the flavours to seep in before serving.

Black Fungus Cold Salad Recipe

This healthy black woodear fungus salad is a refreshing cold side dish (凉拌菜) which helps to improve one’s appetite with its mildly tangy & spicy flavours. It is great for making ahead of the day and works with both fresh & dried black fungus.

Ingredients:

  • 30g dried OR 200g fresh black woodear fungus (黑木耳)

(A) Salad Sauce Seasonings

  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp soybean paste (酱油膏) (may substitute with oyster sauce)
  • 1/2 tbsp vinegar (black, white or apple cider)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 15g fine sugar

(B) Aromatic Garnishes

  • 1 finger-length red chilli for colour; sliced thinly; to taste
  • 2 chilli padi for the heat; sliced thinly & partially de-seeded; to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped spring onions &/or coriander
  • 2 garlic cloves minced 
  • 4 thinly sliced young ginger julienned (long thin strips)

You also need:

  • a non-reactive food container (at least 1 litre or more) with a tight lid

Directions:

  1. If using dried black fungus, add them to a large bowl of cold water to soak for about 40 minutes, or until the fungus are fully reconstituted. Rinse the fungus and set aside. Skip this step and go to step 2 directly if you are using fresh fungus.
  2. Remove the ‘knot’ on the underside of each fungus by cutting it out with kitchen scissors. Cut the fungus to uniform bite-sized pieces.
  3. Cook the fungus. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the fungus and boil for 5 minutes. Place the fungus in a colander. Rinse them under cold running tap water until cooled down, then squeeze out the excess liquids from the fungus.
  4. Prepare the salad sauce while the fungus is cooking. Add seasonings (A) in a bowl. Whisk or stir vigorously until the sugar is dissolved.
  5. Assemble the salad. Place the prepared fungus along with the aromatic garnishes (B) in a food container. Drizzle the salad sauce over the fungus and toss to coat the fungus evenly in the sauce. Alternatively, cover the container with a tight lid and shake to mix well.
  6. Chill the salad in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Before serving, stir the fungus around with a spoon to get them evenly coated in the sauce again. This salad keeps well in the fridge for about 2 days.