Friday, August 13, 2010

Wakame Soup - Pescetarian

This is a yummy soup that I serve in a small bowl as a side dish whenever I cook Japanese or Chinese food. Mmmm..., I can almost smell it by looking at this picture!

I probably have to start with explaining what the heck "wakame" is. It is a type of sea vegetable or edible seaweed. If you have ever ordered a cup of Miso Soup at a Japanese restaurant, you most likely have had it. Yes, that shiny deep green sea vegetable is what's called wakame. According to Wikipedia, "Wakame is a rich source of Eicosapentaenoic acid, an Omega-3 fatty acid. At over 400 mg/100 kcal or almost 1 mg/kJ, it has one of the higher nutrient : calorie ratios, and is among the very highest for a vegetarian source. A typical 1-2 tablespoon serving of Wakame is roughly 3.75-7.5 kcals and provides 15-30 mgs of Omega-3's. Wakame also has high levels of calcium, iodine, thiamine and niacin." Anyways, it's very good for you. I usually buy mine at an oriental grocery store. It's fairly inexpensive because it's such a common food in Japan. You can probably find it in health food stores due to the popularity of macrobiotic diet. It's usually sun-dried and crispy; it almost looks like tea leaves. You need to soak them in water first till soft if you are not using it in a soup. Once soaked, it expands to about 10-15 times larger.

What goes in your body (2 pescetarian servings):
  • 3 cups of water (or more for bigger soup bowl)
  • 2-3 tbsp of wakame
  • 1 tsp of instant dashi (kelp stock) powder
  • 1-2 tsp of soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp of sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp of sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp of chopped scallion
You are going to:
  1. Pour water in a small pot and soak wakame until it's soft. 
  2. Place the pot over medium heat, stir dashi into the water. 
  3. Add a little bit of soy sauce and taste. Repeat till it's just a right flavor for you. 
  4. Pour in individual bowls. Drizzle sesame oil, sprinkle with sesame seeds and chopped scallions.
Secrets from chef:
  • "Dashi" is a basic stock/broth for Japanese cooking. It's usually made by boiling either kombu (kelp) or dried tuna flakes. Just like chicken stock/broth, you can go with homemade, store-made or instant options. I usually use instant dashi powder for convenience. You can find it at an oriental grocery store. 
  • You can also add some thinly sliced vegetables such as onion, carrot, radish for added flavor and nutrition. 
  • Wakame can be eaten uncooked, be careful not to overcook. It will lose its beautiful deep green color and turn slimy. 
Bon appétit! 

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