If you said seaweed to my siblings they would definitely associate it with the terror that comes with swimming in Cornwall as a child, not only having to wade through the slime to get into the sea but the fear of not quite knowing what brushed against your leg in the murky depths below!
The time has finally come to embrace seaweed and to appreciate this traditional diet staple of many costal families. It is brilliantly versatile, has outstanding health benefits and I can now associate it with satisfying my miso broth craving on a cold January night.
Seaweed comes in many forms making it a great ingredient to experiment with and that journey of discovery, even more enjoyable. There are plenty of delicious ways seaweed can be enjoyed; Kelp, sesame and pickled cucumber is a refreshing combination, blitzed Wakame added into a salsa verde to accompany a swordfish steak is gorgeous or turned into a simple Nori salt sometimes hits the spot. My personal favourite seaweed treat is tuna sashimi with radish and fennel carpaccio and dried Wakame.
Seaweed has access to all the nutrients in the sea and the health benefits are becoming more and more apparent. It has recently been classed as a superfood; it is rich in protein, Vitamin B12 and trace minerals. Brilliantly Iodine and omega-3 fatty acids, which most seaweeds have in abundance, are crucial for brain development. As seaweed increases in recent popularity, dried seaweed is easy to find online and stocked in most large supermarkets. (There is the option of foraging along the British coastline for the more adventurous cooks!)
Wakame is the perfect addition to liven up a warming broth. Wakame or ‘Sea Mustard’ as it can be known as in the UK, is a fantastic Japanese sea vegetable that has been enjoyed in Japan since the Nara period, AD 710. Wakame seaweed has a gorgeously subtle sweet taste and it the perfect salad or soup ingredient.
Prawn and Wakame Noodle Soup
Ingredients for two people
- 1 table spoon of sesame oil
- 1 stalk of lemon grass
- 1 tea spoon of grated fresh ginger
- 1 garlic clove
- 4 spring onions
- 1 birds eye chilli
- 2½ pints of fish or vegetable stock
- 10g dried wakame or seaweed of your choice
- ½ bunch of coriander
- ½ bunch mint
- 1 table spoon of soya sauce
- ½ table spoon of fish oil
- 1 pack of uncooked King prawns
- 2 pak choi
- 100g rice noodles
- 1 handful bean sprouts
- Juice of ½ lime
- Chopped coriander
- Chopped mint
- Lime wedge
- Soften the seaweed in a bowl of luke warm water and leave aside.
- Chop the chilli, spring onion and garlic.
- Grate the ginger.
- The lemon grass stays whole throughout the cooking and it is pulled out just before serving. With a wooden spoon bash the lemon grass so that the steam splits.
- In a large sauce pan on a medium heat sweat the ginger, chili, garlic, lemon grass, and spring onion in sesame oil.
- Pour in the stock and stir, leave this to boil for 5 minutes.
- When the stock has boiled for 5 or 6 minutes add in half of the chopped herbs, a little salt and pepper to broth and turn down to a simmer.
- Fry the prawns separately in a frying pan until cooked. When cooked, sprinkle over the juice of ½ lime and leave aside.
- Use the same pan to gently fry the bean sprouts for 3 minutes, then add into the broth.
- Gently pull apart the pak choi leaves and add to the broth, leave to simmer for another 3 – 4 minutes.
- Drain the seaweed and before adding to the broth at the end, cut off any stalky or tough bits and slice into pieces.
- At the last minute, add in the prawns and chopped seaweed.
- Serve and garnish with the remainder of herbs and a lime wedge.