Kale is one of the vegetables I encountered for the first time in my life after moving to America and fell deeply in love with it. This was well before kale salad had developed its current buzz and became popular as a healthy salad choice in this country. I have been continuously enjoying kale, simmered or raw since my discovery.
In this salad I toss thinly julienned raw kale – using an organic variety if possible – with simmered shiitake mushrooms prepared in the traditional way. Raisins and sunflower seeds added to the salad cheering up the flavor and texture of the dish.
Dried shiitake mushrooms from Mardona are heaven sent for this recipe. The mushrooms are of good quality, and are very handy and easy to use. The dried mushrooms are in thinly sliced form, so reconstitution and cooking times are dramatically reduced compared to typical whole dried mushrooms.
1 ounce Shiitake Mushrooms
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon Kishibori Shoyu, soy sauce
2 teaspoons mirin, sweet cooking wine (substitute: make the following mixture: 1 tablespoon sake in which 2 teaspoons sugar are dissolved; use 2 teaspoons of this mixture in this recipe)
8 ounces Tuscan kale, preferably organic
6 ounces seeded and white-rib removed red bell pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup raisins, chopped
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, toasted
Rinse the Mardona Shi-itake Mushrooms in a sieve under cold tap water. Transfer the mushrooms into a bowl and cover them with 1 inch of cold tap water. Let the mushrooms stand in water for 5 minutes or until soft.
Transfer the mushrooms into a small saucepan with the soaking liquid. The mushrooms should be comfortably covered with soaking water. Turn the heat to high and bring the liquid to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the mushrooms for 10 minutes. Add the sugar, stir the mushrooms and cook them over low heat. Add the shoyu and mirin and cook them for an additional 5 minutes. Toward the end of the cooking increase the heat and cook the mushrooms until all of the cooking liquid is absorbed by the mushrooms. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl and let them cool. When the mushrooms are cool, if the mushrooms are too full of liquid, squeeze them lightly to remove the excess.
Rinse the kale in a large bowl of running water. Drain the kale. With a cooking knife remove the center stem part from each leaf. Then, cut the leaves into thin julienne strips. Keep the cut kale in a large bowl. Cut the red bell pepper into 3-inch long, thin strips and add to the kale. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over the kale and red bell pepper and toss them gently with your well-washed hands. Add the lime juice and repeat the tossing process. Add the mushrooms to the kale and red bell pepper. You can store the prepared vegetables in this way in the refrigerator for a later serving.
In a small bowl or glass measuring cup add the lime juice, shoyu, honey, mustard and salt and stir with a whisk until smooth. Add the olive oil and continue stirring the dressing. Add the raisins to the dressing and stir.
Before serving the salad, add the sunflower seeds to the kale, red bell pepper and shiitake mixture and toss them by hand. Add the dressing and toss with the vegetables. Serve the salad in a communal plate or in individual salad plates.