I am obsessed with seaweed salad at the moment. I've been reading books about food and health (specifically, how they relate to one another). One locale in particular has been featured in several of the books I've read lately - Okinawa. Those eating the traditional Okinawan diet are some of the longest lived and healthiest people on the planet.
Reading about the Okinawan diet is what originally caused my seaweed salad craving (it was covered in brief in one of my readings). I pretty much haven't been able to stop thinking about it since! I had some last week with Dave at Umi Sake House. Then more a couple of days ago with Jill (bought at the grocery store; not the best I've had, but it worked). Tonight I've decided to give a go at making it myself.
I was very disappointed with Draegers' Japanese food selection (the aisle label of "ethnic foods" should have tipped me off, but I was still hopeful that I would find the ingredients I was seeking). No such luck. 5 minutes and a quick search on my iphone later, we were on our way to Suruki Japanese Supermarket (only 2 blocks from Draegers!). I was thrilled when I walked in at all there was to look at. JR, however, became frustrated that he couldn't read the labels and sought a clerk to help us track down the needed ingredients - wakame seaweed, dashi, and miso (the latter two for the miso soup that would accompany our seaweed salad).
For the salad, I located a recipe online and made a number of substitutions - tamari instead of soy sauce, agave in place of sugar, and I played with the quantities a bit to suit my taste. Here's what I did:
4 Tbsp. dried wakame
3 Tbsp. tamari
3 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
1 tsp. agave nectar
1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
2 scallions, thinly sliced (including greens)
1 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
Soak wakame in warm water for about 8 minutes to reconstitute. Meanwhile, mix dressing ingredients (tamari through ginger) and set aside. Drain wakame and rinse with cold water. Combine wakame, dressing, scallions, and sesame seeds in a medium bowl, mixing to combine. Allow to sit in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving.
This salad looked a little different from the seaweed salad I've been consuming lately (this seaweed was more "seaweedy" vs. thin strips more like vermicelli noodles that I've been having at restaurants - perhaps a different kind of seaweed?). But the taste was fantastic.
I'm definitely a novice when it comes to Japanese cooking, but want to continue to explore it. Let me know if you have any tips or favorite recipes!