It all started a couple of years ago when I was looking for a really basic seaweed salad — the kind you get in a Japanese restaurant — glassy green kelp with sesame seeds and a light soy-ginger-garlic dressing.
The only stipulation I had was that the kelp be locally harvested from Maine and fresh, not dried. I’m in Portland, which is a peninsula in the Gulf of Maine. These waters are known, among other things, for being the most richly harvested kelp grounds in the country, both wild harvest and farmed.
The problem was, I couldn’t find that product. It existed, but was not available at retail. (That has since changed
, which I’ll cover later.)
What I could find was all manner of dried seaweed, so I shifted my mission to re-create one of my favorite entrée salads, which also happened to be the first time I ever ate seaweed outside of a traditional sushi-restaurant dish. That was, of all places, at a local brick-oven pizza joint.
A Seaweed Week event in Portland, Maine, came with some high-value swag, including Atlantic Sea Farms’ fermented seaweed salad.
Then as luck would have it, I was gifted some of Atlantic Sea Farms new retail-line fermented seaweed salad. So I decided to make this salad again with as many types of seaweed as I had in my cupboard — wakame, skinny kelp, sea lettuce and dulse with a sprinkle of VitaminSea’s applewood smoked dulse for fun.
The key to this salad is the dressing and how well it brings all the flavors together. You can make this vegan, kosher, pescatarian or even pile it high with grilled meat. It is an incredibly versatile vehicle for seaweed.
First things first, bring a pot of water to boil to reconstitute some dried wakame. I recommend at least 4 cups for half an ounce of wakame. Bring that to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes while you make the dressing and prep your salad.
- 1/3 cup vinegar (I prefer something light)
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/4 cup ginger root, grated or sliced
- 1 tablespoon shallot, chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed (or 2 teaspoons coriander powder)
- Optional spice: 1 teaspoon sambal or red pepper flakes
Combine these in a blender, then add:
- 1 1/4 cups oil (I prefer light, like sunflower, light olive, grapeseed, safflower)
Blend for at least a full minute and set aside while you prep the rest of the salad.
Atlantic Holdfast’s 2-ounce dried wakame supplies about 16 servings of this salad.
Salad (serves 4)
- 1/2 ounce dried wakame, reconstituted (see above) and chopped
- 2 ounces Atlantic Sea Farms fermented seaweed salad
- 1 head green leaf lettuce, cleaned and chopped
- 4 cups baby spinach or other greens
- 2 cups arugula
- 1 medium cucumber or two small, peeled and chopped
- 4 celery stalks, chopped fine
- 2 medium carrots, grated
- 1 avocado, peeled and sliced
- 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (optional)
- Black and white sesame seeds
- VitaminSea dried kelp flakes and/or applewood-smoked dulse
Mix your greens in a big bowl and toss with a light coating of the dressing. Divide the tossed greens among the plates and top with cucumber, celery, carrots and avocado, making a ring around the top of the greens.
Portion the wakame and seaweed salad in the middle of the salad. Crumble goat cheese on top (I hold the package over the salad and scrape it out with a fork) and sprinkle with sesame seeds and kelp flakes.
Drizzle with a little more dressing and serve. I love this as a light meal, but it would also be fantastic as a side to scallops and pasta, steamed mussels, steak or even pizza, as its original purveyors intended.
Note: I confess that I do not typically care for celery, but it has some magic purpose in this salad. It’s just not quite the same without it.