Friday recipe: seaweed salad

Last week I used my son’s birthday as an excuse to enjoy one of my and his favorite foods, sushi. We relished the fine offerings of Happi Sushi, a nifty little place in downtown Des Moines. Great food, friendly service and affordable prices. We’ll definitely go back!

The tasty “Happi Meals” we ordered – the spicy tuna roll combo for me, the California combo for my son – included delicious miso soup, lovely fresh fruit and our choice of salad. Per usual, I opted for something I hadn’t had before: seaweed salad. When I complemented our server on how delicious it was, she noted its high nutritional value. Bonus!

Come to find out, this marine plant, sold fresh or dried as “wakame,” is loaded with minerals including magnesium, iodine, calcium and iron; it’s high in vitamins A, C, E and K as well as folate and riboflavin. Wakame also is a source of lignans, which are thought to play a role in preventing certain types of cancer.

I’m now inspired to stop by one of Des Moines’ Asian markets to pick up a package of wakame and try my hand at seaweed salad. I’m told that a tiny bit of the dried stuff goes a long way: When hydrated, the seaweed almost triples in size.

Seaweed: It's what's good for you.

Seaweed salad
3/4 ounce dried wakame
3 tablespoons rice vinegar (without seasoning)
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Red pepper flakes or wasabi powder, to taste (optional)
1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
½ cup thinly sliced cucumber
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Soak dried wakame in warm water to cover for five minutes. Drain, rinse and then squeeze out excess water. Cut into half-inch-wide strips.

Stir together vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, ginger and garlic in a bowl until sugar is dissolved. Add the wakame, scallions and cucumber, tossing to combine well. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

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