Wakame (Alaria esculenta) aka "winged kelp"
Wakame grows along the low tide line of exposed ledges in areas with heavy surf, and is one of the more difficult seaweeds to harvest, as it requires working directly in the midst of incoming waves. Care is taken to harvest only the young first-year plants, allowing the older plants to remain and continue producing spores, ensuring continued regeneration of the population and future harvests.
Wakame can be sautéed alone or with other vegetables, cooked, chilled, and added to salads, or cut in its dry form and added to soups and stews. It pairs well with leeks, scallions, asparagus, kale, spinach, potatoes, carrots, garlic, ginger, tofu, tempeh, bean soups, and a wide variety of other veggies.
Unlike Japanese wakame, which is typically parboiled before being dried, our wakame is dried immediately after harvest to retain its full nutritional value, and requires a longer cooking time to become tender.
Wakame is an excellent source of calcium, potassium, iodine, trace minerals and vitamin A.
Cucumber Wakame Salad
2 oz wakame
3 TBSP apple cider vinegar
3 TBSP maple syrup or honey
2 TBSP Olive or Sunflower Oil
2 TBSP sesame seeds
1-2 cups of fresh blueberries (optional)
Simmer the wakame in a covered pot of water for 30-45 minutes until tender.
While the seaweed is cooking, peel the cucumbers and slice into thin half-moons. Combine with the remaining ingredients and set aside.
Drain the cooked seaweed through a colander and reserve the cooking water for later use. This "broth" can be used as a base for soups, beans, rice, pot roasts, braising vegetables, etc. Spread the seaweed onto a cutting board to cool, and chop into bite-sized pieces. Combine the seaweed with the cucumbers when cool and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Add approximately 1/4 cup dry wakame cut with scissors per quart of water and bring to a boil. Cover and turn the heat to low. Add chopped carrots, leeks, onions, greens, celery, etc. according to their individual cooking times, and simmer till tender.