I'm always looking for ways to get more sea vegetables into my everyday meals. They're a rich source of iodine (especially important for people who do not eat fish or seafood), calcium, magnesium, and other minerals, as well as vitamin K, protein, fiber, and healthy fatty acids. Regular consumption of seaweed nourishes the thyroid, cardiovascular, immune, lymphatic, and digestive systems. And as an added benefit, leftover sea vegetable soaking liquid is great for watering plants.
I always throw a piece of dried kombu (kelp) into the pot when making soups and cooking dried beans (helps tenderize them and neutralize some of the complex carbohydrates that encourage gas production in the gut). And I often add dried wakame and arame to vegetable soups during the last 15 minutes of simmering (no need to pre-soak) for a flavor and nutrition boost. Dried dulse flakes can be sprinkled on whole grain dishes; it's especially tasty stirred into kasha with a little butter.
Another favorite method is to saute arame, hiziki, or wakame with dark leafy greens for a dish that is chlorophyll-rich and full of green goodness. Arame is one of my favorite sea veggies -- sweet, with a pleasant flavor that's oceany but not overwhelming. Robust seasoning with tamari, garlic, ginger, and lemon further tames the seaweed flavor, making this dish an effective strategy for introducing people to sea vegetables (or reintroducing those who might not be fans). For interesting variations, try using hiziki (aka hijiki), wakame, dulse, or a combination, and kale, mustard greens, bok choy, or other leafy greens.
ginger-garlic greens and arame
An excellent side dish, this would also make a nutritious vegetarian main course along with a whole grain or soba noodles. To add protein, top with beans or lentils, cubes of baked tofu, or seared tempeh slices.
1/4 cup dried arame
1 Tbsp oil (sesame or extra virgin olive oil would be good)
1 carrot, shredded (about 1/2 cup)
1 bunch collard greens, washed and chopped into bite-sized pieces (5 to 6 cups)
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp tamari
1-inch length of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tsp lemon juice
- Soak arame in 1 cup of cool water until rehydrated and pliable, about 15 minutes. Drain, squeezing to remove excess liquid.
- Heat oil over medium heat in a deep saute pan, add carrot, and saute until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes.
- Add collards and stir until wilted, about 2 minutes more. Stir in arame and cook for another minute. Then add tamari and garlic and a splash (1 to 2 Tbsp) of water, cover pan, and cook until collards are tender and still bright green, about 5 minutes.
- Turn off heat, and add ginger and lemon juice. Delicious hot or cold.