This cold Asian greens and mushrooms dish is tasty and incredibly easy to make. A light and bright sesame vinaigrette ties everything together, making this dish a delicious appetizer or a light meal!
Okay, so who'd a thought that me throwing together a few ingredients for lunch for myself would actually be something worth writing about?
This delicious dish is crazy easy to make and while I eat it for lunch quite often, it would make a lovely appetizer or side dish to an entree.
My favorite Asian greens to use for this dish is gai lan, also known as Chinese broccoli or Chinese kale. While it is most common to see mature stalks in the Asian market, I prefer to use the "baby" variety, meaning the gai lan has been cut when it is younger and it is more tender and less bitter than its slightly mature counterpart.
Baby gai lan needs minimal trimming, if any, and one cut of the stalks in half and they are ready for cooking.
(Woks of Life recently published a post all about gai-lan and it is worth a read if you want to know more about this very common and popular Chinese vegetable.)
As for the mushrooms, I love eating all sorts. But for this dish, my favorite ones to use are oyster mushrooms and they are very common in Asian cooking. They cook up very quickly, soak up the sauce easily, are very tender, and hold their shape well.
How To Make This Dish
For the sesame vinaigrette, combine soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil in a bowl, adjusting the flavors according to your taste.
I cut larger oyster mushrooms in half so that they are about bite-sized, then I cook them in a pot of boiling water for no more than 1 minute. Any longer and the mushrooms will overcook and the caps will become more limp. One minute is all you need to cook them just enough for this dish.
Using a strainer, remove them from the pot and transfer to a bowl of cold water for a few minutes. Drain the mushrooms and add them to a bowl containing the dressing, letting them hang out and marinate while you move on to preparing the gai lan.
I cut the baby gai lan in half or bite-sized pieces so they are easier to eat. I add some salt to the same pot of boiling water I used to cook the mushrooms and add the greens. Let them simmer for about 5 minutes until tender, but not overcooked, and then transfer them to a bowl of cold water.
After the greens have cooled down, drain them in a colander and they are ready for plating!
I like to make a layer of gai lan on a plate and then top them with the marinated mushrooms. You don't have to do it this way, but I think it makes for a nice presentation!
Drizzle the remaining dressing over the the mushrooms and vegetables. Garnish with some chopped green onions, sesame seeds, or chili flakes, if desired, and that's it!
Substitutions and Variations
I chose to name this recipe Asian Greens and Mushrooms instead of Gai Lan and Oyster Mushrooms because you don't have to only use these specific ingredients to make this dish delicious.
If you can't find or prefer a different vegetable to gai lan, try other Asian greens varieties like baby choy sum, baby bok choy, chopped napa cabbage, or pea shoots, just to name a few.
You can also venture off the Asian greens, if you'd like, and use snow peas or sugar snap peas. Basically, I prefer using small sized tender greens and nothing too big and stalky like broccoli.
To substitute the oyster mushrooms (and stay within the Asian theme), you could use fresh shiitakes, enoki, king trumpet, or white beech. I also like using wood ears for a nice crunch and a bit of texture. You could also use button mushrooms, but I find the other mushrooms more interesting in taste and texture. Obviously, it's completely up to you what you'd like to use!
Another idea is to combine two or three different types of mushrooms in the dish so that it becomes a mushroom medley on top of your greens.
For the sesame vinaigrette dressing, adjust the amount of the soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice vinegar to your taste. If you like a bit of sweetness to your vinaigrette, you can add a pinch of sugar or a bit of honey to balance out the salt and sour. If you like a bit of heat, add some crushed chili pepper or add a small amount of minced garlic or finely chopped onion to the dressing.
Serving Asian Greens and Mushrooms
Aside from being hearty and flavorful enough to stand on its own as a meal, this would make a great appetizer or side dish
Consider serving it with Crispy Roast Pork Belly, Asian Pork and Shrimp Meatballs, Roast Asian Pork Tenderloin, or my Rice Cooker Chinese Sticky Rice. The cool Asian greens and mushrooms and the fresh and bright sesame vinaigrette offer a nice balance to these heavier dishes.
Preparation Tip: Because this dish is served cold, you can cook the gai lan and mushrooms and make up the dressing ahead of time and simply store them separately in the fridge until you are ready to serve or eat. If you prefer to eat them more at room temperature, simply remove them from the fridge about 30-60 minutes before to reduce the chill.
This dish is vegetarian and vegan friendly. It can easily be made gluten-free by using tamari or liquid aminos in place of regular soy sauce. If you don't use any sweetener, it is a great keto or low-carb dish. And besides being suitable for various diets and being incredibly easy to make, it is very delicious and makes a beautiful dish.
I love how easy this is to throw together for a quick and easy lunch, and I also love how light and refreshing it is. Little did I realize at the time that me throwing together some ingredients on the fly for lunch could actually be a "real" recipe! I hope you'll give it a try!
Cold Asian Greens and Mushrooms with Sesame Vinaigrette
- ¼ lb. baby gai lan (Chinese broccoli, Chinese kale) see substitutions in Recipe Notes below
- ¼ lb. fresh oyster mushrooms see substitutions in Recipe Notes below
- Trim ends off stalks of gai lan. Cut stalks in half.
- Cut oyster mushrooms into bite-sized pieces.
- Bring water in a medium-sized pot to a boil on the stovetop.
- Add the mushrooms to the water and cook for 1 minute. Use a strainer or slotted spoon to transfer the mushrooms to bowl with cold water.
- In a bowl, add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil for the vinaigrette. Drain the mushrooms and add to the dressing, stirring to coat. Let marinate.
- Add salt to the same pot of boiling water (adding more water, if necessary, so that the greens will be submerged). Add the gai lan to the pot and cook for 5 minutes until stalks are tender, but not overcooked.
- Use a strainer or slotted spoon to transfer the gai lan to a separate bowl with cold water.
- Drain the gai lan and arrange on a plate or in separate dishes.
- Top each mound of gai lan with the mushrooms. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the greens.
- Garnish with sesame seeds, chopped green onions, chili pepper flakes, if desired.
- Serves 2 as a side dish, serves 1 as a meal.
- ¼ lb. is approximately 113 grams in weight.
- Baby gai lan has more tender stalks and are rarely woody.
- If you use regular gai lan, trim the woody ends off the stems.
- Cut regular sized gai lan into 3 or 4 sections vs. 2 sections for baby gai lan.
- Substitute the gai lan with other Asian greens such as choy sum, bok choy, pea shoots, or other tender greens such as snow peas, or sugar snap peas.
- Salting the water for cooking the gai-lan will help give the greens some flavor.
- Substitute the oyster mushrooms with other Asian type mushrooms like enoki, king trumpet, or fresh shiitake.
- Let the mushrooms sit in the vinaigrette dressing while you are preparing the gai-lan so that the mushrooms can marinate.
- Mix in some dried chili flakes into your dressing to add heat to your salad.
- Gai lan and mushrooms can be cooked ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator separately (not mixed with the dressing) until ready for serving.