Mushroom and Noodle Salad with Sesame Sauce


4 dried mushroom caps (shitake, or Chinese dried mushrooms)
1 packet cellophane noodles
2 eggs
pinch caster sugar
pinch ajinomoto (Japanese taste powder) (optional)
2 thick slices lean cooked ham, cut in strips
1 cucumber sunflower or peanut oil

for the sesame sauce:

4 fl oz (120 ml) sesame oil
2 1/2 fl oz (70 ml) sweet Japanese vinegar
1 tsp Japanese wasabi powder
3 tbsp Japanese (light) soy sauce
3 tbsp mirin or sweet sake small
pinch ajinomoto (Japanese taste powder) (optional)


1. Cook the Chinese cellophane noodles (a packet usually weighs about 8 - 9 oz (225 - 250 g). Soak these in a bowl of hot water for 30 minutes. Put the dried mushrooms to soak in hot water for 30 minutes, then drain off the water, reserving 5 fl oz (150 ml) of it and squeeze excess moisture out of the mushrooms.

2. Cut the caps into strips. Beat the eggs with a pinch each of salt and caster sugar and a small pinch of ajinomoto taste powder (optional). Heat 1 tbsp sunflower oil in a wide non-stick frying pan and add the beaten egg mixture, tipping the pan this way and that to spread it out thinly all over the bottom of the pan.

3. Cook over a low heat for a few minutes until completely set but not at all browned. Slide the very thin omelette out of the pan on to a plate and cut into strips.

4. Rinse and dry the cucumber; cut off both ends. Rub the entire surface with plenty of salt, leave for a few minutes and then wipe very thoroughly with kitchen paper or a clean cloth. Slice into strips. Make the sauce by mixing all the ingredients thoroughly in a bowl, diluting with the strained reserved water from the soaked mushrooms.

5. Add the cellophane noodles to the boiling water, cook for 3 minutes only, then drain in a sieve. Cut into short lengths, transfer to a serving bowl, and arrange the ham, cucumber, mushroom and omelette strips all over the surface. Cover and chill. Serve cold with the sesame sauce.

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