Why Wakame? Why Not!
By Kate Heyhoe
Wakame salad has become the darling of sushi bars and take-out cases. It’s slightly spicy, with a sweet-tart balance, and a toothsome chewiness that belies its origins as a sea vegetable—especially one that has been dried, reconstituted, prepared as a salad, and shipped frozen. Once thawed, prepared wakame salad sells for several dollars a pound. But you can make your own wakame salad in minutes at a fraction of the cost, and serve it now or freeze it for later enjoyment. It keeps beautifully.
Look for dried wakame, which is also used in soups, in Japanese, Korean or specialty markets, including health food stores. Regular wakame comes in long strips, but fueru wakame is already cut into bite-size pieces, which can be chopped after rehydrating into smaller bits or used as is. If you spot dried agar agar strands, add some to the salad for more texture and taste (rehydrate in water and squeeze dry.)
Why wakame? Like other sea vegetables, it’s a nutritious and mineral-rich, sustainable superfood with a low-impact cookprint. It’s especially rich in protein, calcium, iodine, magnesium, iron and folate. And you may be surprised at just how delicious it can be. If you’re a fan of the wakame salad served at sushi bars, try making your own with this basic recipe below. You can season to taste, and it costs less than half of what you’d pay for prepared versions. Plus, a package of dried wakame is shelf-stable and makes several servings, so it’s an excellent pantry item for when you’ve run out of lettuce or fresh salad fixings.
Kate’s Wakame Salad
While the wakame rehydrates, mix the dressing in the bottom of a serving bowl. Then simply add the slivered wakame, toss and serve at room temperature or chilled. The salad will be darker than commercially made varieties, which use preservatives to retain the bright green hue.
- 1 ounce dried wakame seaweed
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons grapeseeed, canola or neutral flavored oil
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Red pepper flakes to taste
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Rinse the wakame, place in a bowl, and cover with water. Soak until soft, about 5 minutes. Squeeze dry and trim away the spines if the pieces are whole. Slice or chop into thin strips, and toss in a bowl with the dressing. Serve now, or cover and chill until ready to serve. The salad will keep refrigerated 3 days, or may be frozen and thawed in the refrigerator.
Copyright ©2009 Kate Heyhoe, NewGreenBasics.com