Wednesday 7 June 2017

Wakame & Shrimp Summer Seaweed Salad

   Summer is on its way. Or so it would have you believe. I reckon we've had our summer here in England. And it was a very nice week.
   But all these summery inspo pictures on my twitter feed and people sharing their summer plans, I start feeling the summer vibes (if I turn my back to the window). I'm wearing tank tops, yearning for ice creams and generally turning towards cooler food. I'm also itching to travel, but as that's not an option, I can at least indulge in the flavours of far away places.
   But I'm not keen on heat. Tropical places look gorgeous, but I wouldn't enjoy them. I can barely stand an English summer. So, in truth, I don't really want to go much further south than I already am.
   My bucket list of destinations is the Arctic, Canada, Norway, Iceland and Japan. Japan is kind of the odd one out on the list because it's warmer than the others - indeed a few of the southern islands are tropical - but it's the culture and the food that interests me, not just the sights. In fact, Japanese is my favourite cuisine - all the fish, the noodles, the miso, green tea, and the fact that their confectionary is packaged by the serving - no share sized bags. It's easier to stop when you're supposed to; the temptation to gorge is made harder to indulge if you have to consciously go through another wrapper.
   Over the holiday week Seeg and I made a few Japanese dishes, including simple niku udon (beef udon) and our favourite: okonomiyaki. But the latter in particular is quite heavy and so reserved for holidays (2 or 3 times a year).
   So, with my desire to travel for a summer holiday and my love of food, I put together a nice, cool little Japanese lunch to spice up mid week: a wakame seaweed salad with shrimp.

   It might sound a little odd, or perhaps look unappetising, but you'd be wrong. It's also quite nutritious.
   The wakame seaweed doesn't offer much of a taste, instead the flavour comes from the marinade of soy sauce, white rice vinegar and miso paste, the latter of which intensifies the flavour without making it saltier. Instead the wakame contributes more variety in texture than much else, chewy but not rubbery, giving the small dish a lot more body.
   As for why I would eat seaweed, wakame provides a great source of iodine, as many sea vegetables do, and iodine is required to produce the thyroid hormone, which keeps cells and the metabolic rate healthy. It's also a good source of magnesium, and as I suffer from magnesium-related migraines, I'm always keen to keep myself topped up on that mineral in particular.
   Miso is also packed full of vitamins, and it's a healthy, fermented food full of good bacteria and enzymes which is great for your gut. The western diet doesn't get much of this, but it's quite common in the east, which is thought to contribute to lower BMIs. But heat can kill the goodness of miso quite quickly, so miso paste is usually added at the end of recipes to minimise the exposure to heat. In this case, we're adding it to room-temperature fluid - soy sauce and white rice vinegar - and then refrigerating. Miso paste should always be stored tightly sealed in the fridge.

Serves 1; 200cals, 35g protein, 7g carbs
2 tbsp dried wakame seaweed
30ml / 1/8cup white rice vinegar
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp brown rice miso paste
150g / 5oz cooked and cooled shrimp/prawns
1 green onion, chopped

1. Put the dried seaweed in a bowl and cover with warm water. Leave to soak and expand for 10 minutes.

2. Mix the rice vinegar (sometimes called rice wine vinegar), soy sauce and brown miso paste until combined.

3. Remove the wakame from the water and plunge briefly into boiling water, then rinse in cold. Remove from water and squeeze out the excess, then combine wakame, shrimp, chopped onion and the vinegar mix in a bowl.

4. Chill for 2-3 hours before serving.


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