True story: A few months ago at our local Trader Joe’s, I spied a young woman sitting on a bench at the entrance of the store in a trance-like state eating something from a hurriedly ripped open green package. With a faraway look in her eyes, she was munching on thin sheets of roasted seaweed, one after another without stopping. I glanced at her two shopping bags propped up in front of her. They were filled to the brim with the same green packages–perhaps 20 per shopping bag? I was intrigued.
They come in paper thin strips.
I grew up eating seasoned roasted seaweed. My relatives from Hawaii would send large canisters of it every year. My family never seemed to finish all of it, and most of the strips would always turn soft in defiance of the little white packets of desiccant that came in the container. I believe they were loaded with MSG so it is probably just as well we never ate the entire batch.
“Was there something different about the Trader Joe’s roasted seaweed?” I wondered. I decided to see for myself.
What I discovered is that these strips are less salty than the ones I have had in the past, and they are made of only natural ingredients (seaweed, safflower and sesame oil, and salt). And because they come in a small container of two servings, it is easy to finish it in one sitting with another person when the seaweed is at its peak of crunchiness and freshness. I have to say that these seaweed snacks are addictive.
Though I don’t sit eating them trance-like, I do love them. It has even caught on with my son who previously would never eat dried seaweed. He eats these seaweed strips by the stack full like potato chips.
Recently he’s taken to combine them with his other favorite foods, creating truly Asian-American fusion meals. He urged me to post it on this blog. Hee hee.
I present to you — Jamie’s Pizza Sushi (pizza piece rolled in seaweed):
This one is his latest:
Open faced PB and seaweed sandwich
Believe it or not, these inventions of his taste really good!
I’m more of a purist though. My favorite way to eat them is with hot rice. The clean flavor and combination of crunchy and soft and sticky textures brings me back to when I lived briefly in Japan.
Paired with a freshly made hot bowl of miso soup and salad, it makes a nice light meal.
Note: If you want to make the dashi (Japanese stock) from scratch, kombu (dried kelp) and katsuo boshi (dried bonito flakes) can be found in Asian stores. You can also make dashi using instant dashi powder– just add water!
Kombu (dried kelp), Wakame (dried seaweed), Katsuo boshi (dried bonito flakes)
4 cups water
1 to 2-inch piece of kombu
Large pinch of katsuo boshi
1. Heat water and kombu in a saucepan. Just before water boils, remove kombu and discard. Add katsuo boshi. Boil for 30 seconds. Turn off heat. Let flakes settle to bottom on pan.
2. Strain liquid into a bowl or measuring cup (I use the same one I used to measure the water), pushing down on solids to remove as much liquid as possible.
Makes 4 cups.
"shiro" (white) more mild than "aka" (red) -- the darker the miso paste, the stronger the flavor
4 cups of dashi
4 tablespoons miso paste
Pinch of wakame (dried seaweed — also found in Asian stores)
1 ounce of tofu cut into small cubes
1/2 scallion, finely sliced
1. Pour about 1/4 cup dashi into a small bowl. Add miso paste to bowl and whisk until mixture is free of lumps.
miso whisked in a bit of dashi
2. Pour remaining dashi into sauce pan. Add whisked miso slurry to pan. Add tofu, wakame, and green onions.
wakame, tofu cubes, and sliced green onion
3. Gently heat miso soup over low heat until it is ready to be eaten. Do not let it boil or simmer.
Makes about 4 servings.