Are you ready to try something new? Something complex, tasty, weird, but easy to make? I imagine it might help if I told you it features an ingredient that is about as sustainable an eco-friendly as they come: seaweed.
Seaweed has been consumed by humans and animals, used medicinally, and, in fact, farmed for millennia. We have access in abundance, and seaweed is already a key element in many cuisines, especially in East Asia. It’s distinctive flavor, however, is an acquired taste, and poses a bit of an image problem for seaweed.
That’s where its eco-friendly footprint comes in. You may have read about sustainable eating in reference to seafood. As it applies to plant-life, sustainability is a measurement by which we can cultivate produce that benefits the environs where they are grown. Seaweed is a prime example of a sustainable crop. It can be grown in aquaculture settings to feed fish, and is amongst the fastest growing plants in the world.
Because it’s so sustainable (yet not terribly popular), I decided it was time to find a good way to introduce seaweed to more people. I’ve poured through numerous recipes to find one that will showcase the flavor and perhaps make it more accessible. The following recipe from Serious Eats for “seaweed tartare”, a.k.a. seaweed dip, does just that. It’s familiar enough to be interesting but not threatening, and is adaptable as a spread or a dip. Hopefully, you will enjoy it so much that you won’t hesitate to try other seaweed dishes in the future!
makes ½ cup; active cooking time 20 minutes, total cooking time 2 hours and 40 minutes
- 3/4 cup (180 ml) dehydrated mixed seaweed flakes
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons finely diced shallot
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 rounded teaspoons drained capers
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon walnut oil or untoasted sesame oil
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Put the seaweed in a bowl with 1 cup (240 ml) cold water. Set aside to rehydrate for 30 minutes
- Meanwhile, combine the garlic, shallot, and lemon juice in another bowl; the acidity will soften the raw edge of the garlic and shallot.
- Drain the seaweed thoroughly, transfer to a food processor, and add the garlic mixture, the capers, both oils, the salt, and a grinding of black pepper. Pulse until finely chopped, scraping down the sides of the bowl regularly. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
- Transfer to a jar, close tightly, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight, to allow the flavors to mingle. Eat within 2 to 3 days.
Give it a try; even if it takes you a while to come around to seaweed, it’s an invaluable ingredient we should all strive to become more familiar with.