With a mild taste that gives it great versatility. Although there is much Wakame culinary inspiration coming from Asia - Wakame is a Japanese staple often found floating on a bowl of miso soup - there is much tradition in the West with Alaria, a seaweed that has been dubbed the 'Atlantic Wakame'.
In Japanese, wakame means ‘young girl’; it is named after the people who traditionally picked it. Not originally a native of NZ, this seaweed has come to flourish here, growing in abundance along the coast of both the North & South Islands.
Whether you choose fronds or whole leaves, Wakame is delicate & versatile, it can just be added to many recipes. An easy way to get Wakame culinary inspiration is to look for something similar in the land vegetable world.
It has a spinach-like flavour with a fresh sea aftertaste; the texture is silky with a gentle bite to it. Wakame doesn't need to be cooked, in fact keeping it raw has the advantage of keeping all the vitamins & natural enzymes intact. Dehydrated wakame can just be added to soups or quickly re-hydrated to make salads or added to a variety of dishes as a vegetable ingredient.
To rehydrate wakame, soak it in water for a few minutes (3-5); it will expand 6-10 times. To change the taste or add 'zing' to a recipe, soak in stock, herbal/fruit tea or flavoured water. Wakame preserves best in its dry state so only soak what you need. The soaking water is sweet and full of nutrients; it's nice to consume on its own or used as a base for smoothies, stews or soups.
Visit our recipe section for culinary inspiration, but below are some simple ideas to get you started:
- STIR-FRIES: Add the re-hydrated leaves/fronds to a stir fry with soba noodles, fish, mushrooms, daikon and other vegetables
- ASIAN-STYLE SALADS: Rehydrate the seaweed and add sesame seeds and a simple Asian dressing to create the delicious seaweed salad you can buy in sushi shops; or try sunomono, a mixture of wakame pieces, cucumber and sesame seeds dressed with an easy vinaigrette.
- BOWL MEAL & SOUPS: Combine with noodles, grains, shrimp and avocado for a filling and nutritious meal. Make your own miso soup!
- POTATO/FISH CAKES & BAKING: Add the chopped leaves to mashed potato as a side dish or to croquettes or potato patties. Even to biscuits!
- WRAP FISH: Use the full leaves to wrap around fish before steaming or baking for a succulent finish.