Edible Seaweed: Wakame

Wakame 1

After the ubiquitous Nori, widely used to wrap Sushi rolls, and Kombu, the seaweed base for Dashi, Wakame is probably the third most extensively used seaweeds in Japanese cuisine. It is a frequent addition to soups and its bright, emerald green color when reconstituted makes it an especially attractive, not to mention tasty addition to a variety of salads… 

Wakame 2

Wakame can be purchased dried in long strands, as shown in the first picture, and these will generally need to be cut into shorter pieces, ideally before soaking as it is a little tricky afterwards. You can, however, also purchase the strands already pre-cut and you can see these more closely in the above picture.

Wakame 3

To prepare Wakame for use, it needs to be reconstituted by briefly soaking it in water. All you need do is put the dried pieces in a suitable bowl and pour over a good amount of warm water to completely submerge the pieces (use lots and cover to a depth of at least two inches).

The Wakame will expand a good 4 – 6 times its dried volume and this only takes a couple of minutes. It is best not to soak much longer than this as the fronds are quite friable. As soon as the seaweed is completely expanded, refresh in cold water and then gently squeeze dry.

If you taste it immediately after preparing it for use in a recipe you will discover that it has a very delicate flavor that is a bit reminiscent of cucumber with a faint hint of the sea.

Wakame 4

Here is one tablespoon of dried small pieces after soaking, refreshing and squeezing. As you can see, there is about 5 tablespoons of refreshed pieces. Sometimes, especially when using the longer, uncut pieces, you may find a tough woody rib in some of the fronds. This will need to be cut away as it is quite tough and not easy to eat or digest. Other than that, though, the reconstituted seaweed is ready to be added to soup, or tossed with other ingredients for a delicious salad…

 

 

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