I know, I know…. Some of my readers will leave this page right now. Hopefully not you though! But weeds? And from the sea? Yes, you read it right! Now, don’t freak out….obviously, there’s a reason I’m bringing them to your attention. And the reason is: seaweeds are ancient superfoods that are loaded with nutrition! In fact, the phytonutrients present in them are so concentrated that you only need to eat a small amount to get their health benefits.
If you’re lucky enough to have grown up right by the beach where you could smell the ocean all the time, then you probably won’t even notice anything, but I didn’t, and I don’t think I tried any seaweed until I was about twenty years old. Their taste and texture are definitely something to get used to…..a very distinct and somewhat fishy flavor that, I’m sure, seems stronger than it is if you’re a vegan : ). The good news is that there are ways to prepare them to end up with quite palatable meals or snacks in no time.
Why seaweeds rock?
Nori, wakame, kombu, dulse, arame, Irish moss…all plants of the sea are multicellular algae. Some are green, others are brown, or red, or even translucent. What they all have in common, besides growing in seawater, is that they’re all very nutritious, that is, very high in iodine (excellent for thyroid health), minerals, protein, and lignans, the plant compounds with cancer-protective properties. Let’s start with nori, the one you have probably tried if you’ve ever gone out for sushi. It’s available as raw or toasted thin sheets that you can wrap things in….how fun! Raw, they appear nearly black, or a very dark green, but once they’re toasted, they are a brighter green in color. Nori is rich in iron, potassium, magnesium, vitamin A, C, B2, and of course, iodine. It’s also a good source of protein. Wakame is another one you might have encountered since it’s most commonly used in miso soup that is also served in Japanese restaurants. Ever wondered what those green, sweet tasting slimy things were floating in the soup? They are them. Wakame is high in B vitamins and essential fatty acids, which means it’s very good for your skin. Kombu, a brownish-green sea vegetable, is used to treat thyroid conditions and is very rich in minerals and folate. I used to add a small piece to beans. (If you cook beans, put a 1-2 inch piece on the bottom of the pot then layer onions, vegetables (if using any) and the beans on top. Leave the kombu in there. This will help with the digestion of any kind of beans.) Dulse has a beautiful deep rosy-purple color and is also commonly added to soups or, in a powder form, used as a thickening agent. It’s exceptionally high in iron, magnesium, beta carotene, and protein! Arame is a mild tasting sea vegetable that can be added to salads and almost anything else you wish to try it with. The dark brownish strands are rich in calcium, iron, zinc, manganese, folate, and vitamins A, and K. Irish moss is most commonly used to thicken foods, especially desserts. It’s yellowish brown and is rich in vitamin A, minerals and protein but especially rich in sulfur, which means it’s good for decalcification!
Where to get some?
Unless you live on the coastline somewhere where it’s very clean and you can harvest it yourself , you’ll have to look for them in a health food store or an Asian market. Most health food stores will either carry a variety of dried seaweeds in bulk or ready-to-use seaweed salad mixes that are kept hydrated and in salt in a plastic : ( bag, the kind I used for this recipe. All Asian stores/markets have an incredible selection of dried seaweeds available and some of them even sell them fresh, by the pound!
1 (6 oz.) package seaweed mix
1 green onion
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp of your favorite sweetener (optional)
½ tsp red chili flakes
soy sauce or shoyu*
*If you buy the moist version that is sitting in salt then you’ll find that it’s not necessary. Even after rinsing or soaking the seaweed it will be salty enough.
Rinse the seaweed and if you have time, let it soak for a while. Soaking is obviously a must if you’re using dried seaweed. They need to be rehydrated before you can make a salad. Put the draind seaweed in a mixing bowl. In a separate dish, mix the oil and the vinegar and the soy sauce and sweetener (if you choose to use them). Pour the dressing over the seaweed and mix well. Add some sesame seeds and chili flakes and top with sliced green onion. Eat!
This salad keeps really well and is an easy way to take something nutritious with you to work the next day, if you have any leftovers.
Featured in Funky Raw, UK's raw food magazine