Last month, we talked about the health benefits of seaweed. Now, it’s time to cook with it!
Here’s the thing about seaweed: It’s scary until you try it.
I won’t lie, its not for everybody but I will say this – give it a chance and you might just find yourself loving this unique and delicious ingredient! What’s truly special about seaweed is it’s ability to impart an uncanny umami flavour. Umami is one of the five major tastes and if you watched Heston Blumenthal’s episode on how to make airplane food great, you’ll know that umami is the one taste that holds up in the sky (our ability to taste everything else seem to be dulled when we’re 30,000 feet in the air).
“Wait a second, we’re not all little Hestons… so how do we use seaweed in our very own homes?”. Well, what are you waiting for? Keep reading!
Using different types of seaweed at home:
When you’re making a little homemade sushi and the song that comes up on your playlist goes “they see me rollin’, they hating”, you can’t help but feel a little bad-ass. Rolling sushi, that is.
We all love the cheeky sushi roll. What’s not to love about the rows of beautifully lined sushi rolls filled with fillings galore… but have you ever tried making it at home yourself?
It’s not as difficult as you may think it is and makes for a lovely lunch amongst friends and family as you gather together around a table, creating customised sushi rolls. While it may take a little time to prepare the fillings, it makes for a great time. Rolling and chatting, eating and laughing, surprising each other with the new flavour combinations you come up with at the table. You may even find yourself making adventurous shapes of animal sushi (just putting it out there).
To make enough sushi rice for two rolls, cook up a half a cup of short-grain sushi rice. Once cooked but still warm, add 1 tsp of rice wine vinegar, 1 tsp of mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine), and 1 tsp of sugar to your rice. Use cutting motions with a spatula to combine the ingredients and voila. You have just made sushi rice. Roll up with a few slivers of avocado, a few leaves of butter lettuce and some succulent teriyaki chicken (Kewpie mayonaise optional). Delish!
For the Korean equivalent of nori rolls, see here.
If you’re looking to liven a bowl of rice, congee or noodles, look no further – furikake might be the answer to your prayers. Whilst commercially sold versions of this seasoning/sprinkle may contain high amounts of preservatives, home-made furikake is surprisingly easy to make with just a few simple ingredients (not that preservatives are inherently evil, though – more about this coming up this month at The Nutrition Press). Here’s a basic recipe from Foodie with Family or if you’re up for a little more adventure, try this one containing dried shrimp and anchovies from Food 52.
Dashi is a traditional fish broth used as the base for many a Japanese recipe. However, if you’re not into fish you may find that the solution lies in the humble seaweed. All you’ll need is a little kelp and a little water, and ta-da – a completely vegetarian stock ready to use in any recipe!
Here’s a recipe from Just One Cookbook that uses just two ingredients. P.s. one of the ingredients is water, so really, it’s probably one of the easiest recipes you’ve ever likely to come across!
In a dried form, wakame has a mild taste and can be used as in soups, salads and as a garnish.
… but perhaps wakame is best known for its role in miso soup. This quintessentially Japanese soup is served from breakfast to dinner in Japan and is a delightful (and umami) way to start any meal! Here’s how to make a simple miso soup in your own home.
- 2.5 cups of water
- 10g of bonito flakes (dried fish flakes)
- 3 tbsp miso paste of your choice (awase miso is a good all rounder)
- 2 tsp of dried wakame seaweed
- 100g of silken tofu, cut into cubes
- 1 tbsp of green onion/shallots, finely chopped
- Add the water and bonito flakes to a pot and simmer for around 5-10mins to create a quick dashi stock. After this time, strain out your bonito flakes, keeping only the clear broth.
- Add in your miso paste and stir until fully dissolved. Then add in the wakame/dried seaweed and allow to rehydrate - this will take only a minute or two. You will know when the seaweed has rehydrated when each curl unrolls into thin, semi-translucent pieces.
- Carefully lower your tofu into the soup and throw in the green onion. Allow to come to a simmer again before serving hot, with a side of rice.