Carrot and Fragrant-Wood Ear ‘Guac-opo’ Salad

T___T This is absolute deliciousness, and I am proud to have it as a recipe in my roster. Creamy meets zesty, AND light and chewy, AND fragrant, with hints of cinnamon, sweet wine vinegar, and bold guacamole, all paired with fresh arugula and cilantro for balance.

Ingredients:

Cinnamon Opo Squash:

  • 1 cup cut and peeled opo squash pieces
  • 1 tsp almond oil
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Fresh Guacamole (makes 1 cup):

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/4 cup tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup onions
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1 Tbsp fresh garlic (about 3-4 cloves)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh jalapeño
  • Pinch of salt and black pepper to taste

Wood Ear Mushroom and Carrot sauté:

  • 1/4 cup wood ear mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup julienned carrots
  • 1 Tbsp almond oil
  • 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • ½ Tbsp ground Szechuan peppercorns

Arugula and Cilantro base:

  • 1 cup fresh arugula/rocket
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Special equipment: parchment paper and plastic wrap

Prep time: 30-40 minutes
Yields: 1 serving

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Baste opo pieces in 1 tsp almond oil and sprinkle with cinnamon. Arrange spaced apart on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
  3. While opo is baking, first prepare guacamole: core and scoop avocado into a medium-sized bowl and mash together with a fork.
  4. Chop the tomatoes, onions and cilantro, then finely dice the garlic and jalapeño. Stir each of these into the mashed avocado.
  5. Add the lime juice and sprinkle of salt and pepper to the guacamole and stir. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in fridge. (Guacamole can last stored for 1-2 additional days.)
  6. Once opo is finished baking, take out of the oven and allow to cool.
  7. Next, sauté wood ear mushrooms and carrot slices in 1 Tbsp almond oil over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, adding white wine vinegar midway to deglaze and Szechuan peppercorns to season.
  8. Remove mushroom and carrots from heat once tender. Toss together in a large plate with 1/4-1/2 cup of prepared guacamole, arugula and cilantro, and eat!

Yasmine’s notes:

While this 4-component salad takes a longer time to make than many of my other salads, I still highly recommend it on a day when you’ve got the time. The flavors are just too delicious to skip, and frankly, DIFFERENT from what I’ve otherwise ever encountered paired together. While I’ll argue that this salad is truly the result of many social influences coming together— I’ll also personally say, “Chinese? Taiwanese? Mexican? Keto?? WHO CARES??!! Just eat the thing because it’s all tasty.”

This said, I’ve also found that there’s only one real way TO make such a salad as this, with so many different regionally-sourced ingredients: seek out a variety of different nationality food suppliers nearest you.


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