Seaweed has been a regular part of the Japanese diet for centuries. It is low in calories, fat and cholesterol, a good source of dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals. So why don’t I think of making seaweed salad more often?
Granted it’s not the most attractive item you will find at your local health food store or Asian market and the word weed makes it sound like something you might toss in the mulch heap. But sea vegetables, as they are also known, make an interesting addition to salads. I have several types in my pantry, nori for rolls, kombu for dashi, the base for miso soup. I chose wakame (wah-ka-may) for this salad. It has a chewy texture and a very mild flavor, a little sweet and a little salty. Not much is needed, an ounce of dried seaweed is enough for a salad to serve four. Dried wakame may not look like much but after soaking, it expands up to six to eight times it’s original size.
The wakame should not soak any longer than the directions suggest, it will get soggy. Drain well and rinse with cold water. Remove the inedible stem if present. Thinly slice an equal amount of Persian or seedless cucumbers with a mandolin. The simple dressing uses staples from the Japanese pantry, miso, rice vinegar, and mirin. Combine the wakame, scallions and cucumbers in a medium bowl and toss with the dressing. Top with toasted sesame seeds.
We nibbled on this light, refreshing salad while enjoying the sushi and sashimi dinner Joe prepared last weekend. In Japanese cuisine it is considered a sunomono (vinegar based cold dish). The crunchy cucumber, (fresh from the garden of course) contrasts nicely to the soft chewy texture of the wakame.
Wakame and Cucumber Salad
- 1 ounce dried wakame seaweed
- ¼ c rice wine vinegar
- 1 T fresh lime juice
- 1 T yellow miso paste
- 1 T freshly grated ginger
- 1 t honey
- 1 T mirin
- 1 T dark sesame oil
- 1/3 c canola oil
- Salt to taste
- 6 thinly sliced, Persian cucumbers or 1 large seedless cucumber
- 2 thinly sliced scallions
- Soak seaweed in warm water to cover, 5 minutes. Drain, rinse briefly with cool water and drain again. Use a paper towel to blot excess water. Set seaweed aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, lime juice, miso paste, ginger, honey, mirin, sesame and canola oil.
- Add the wakame along with the cucumbers and scallions and toss well.
- Garnish with sesame seeds and serve immediately.