Notable Nosh: Supermarket Seaweed Salad
I think this is the third or fourth time I have come across a pre-made seaweed salad in our local supermarket, lately… Each time it has been offered in one of those plastic, clam-shell containers alongside the infrequently appearing sushi selection and I was pleased to see something new and relatively exotic for this part of the country.
The salad looks very much like similar ones I have been served in restaurants down south, right down to the somewhat neon quality of the bright green shreds. It wasn’t until I started eating the salad that I saw that there are two types of seaweed used (in addition to the clear strips of Agar added for texture); the first, I am almost certain, is Wakame, while the second, which appears in much smaller amounts and is a considerably darker green, is almost certainly Kombu. By the way, the extreme bright green of the Wakame is unlike anything I have seen on a beach, or even when reconstituting Wakame at home, and I have read that dyes are used to produce the color. This is somewhat odd, to my mind, as the natural color of the real article is actually a very pleasant bright green anyway…
The salad is very delicately dressed with what I take to be a very light splash of vinegar (rice vinegar I presume), and just a hint of sesame oil. The combination of these produces has only a mild presence and the nice fresh flavor of the seaweeds is allowed to come through. There is a garnish of sesame seeds and chili flakes as well but the former merely adds texture while the chili is barely noticeable. I must say that I rather thought that the texture of the salad, after being prepared well in advance and allowed to sit, would be a bit soft and maybe even slimy but it was actually very good indeed. The seaweeds had just the right bite, with an interesting contrast made with the agar strips, and the overall effect was very pleasant. I wasn’t expecting a great deal but I think this was every bit as good as many versions I have been served in restaurants.