I grew up minutes away from the blue-green waters of the Long Island Sound. The views here may not be as picturesque as those of the West Coast, and the water may not have the luminous hues of New York’s Green Lake, but these days I can regularly be found passing long hours at the Sound’s edge, buried in a book.

As a tender youth, though, I utterly lacked appreciation for all the character the West Haven beach was building in me, and was instead totally freaked out by those slimy green waters, dense with seaweed and rife with warm spots that I was convinced signified the recent presence of some wayward, incontinent toddler. It is truly a wonder then, that despite all of those years spent terrified of those murky depths, determinedly dodging tangled nests of Ascophyllum and traumatized by the warm, slimy fronds of dead man’s fingers, adult me would willingly — nay, enthusiastically! — put that slimy green stuff in my mouth.*

Still, seaweed is a vegetable, and as such, it was only a matter of time before I learned to love it. If you’re new to eating seaweed, you might recognize wakame from miso soup. Preparing it cold brings out different qualities in this sea vegetable. This is the very first way I prepared wakame at home, and I absolutely adore it. With its beautiful deep green hues, it is tender, salty, and totally refreshing on a hot day.

People make tons of health claims about seaweed, and I’m not the kind to sit around parsing that kind of material. But seaweed is one of nature’s highest sources of omega-3s, if that means something to you, and it’s got a ton of other nutrients, including calcium, magnesium and fiber. It’s quick to rehydrate, and you don’t even need to heat up water to do so, making this a great summertime dish.

 

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Sesame Wakame Salad
 
Ingredients
  • 2 oz wakame (~2 cups)
  • 2 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1½ Tbsp tamari
Instructions
  1. Using kitchen shears, cut wakame strips lengthwise and then into 2" pieces.
  2. Place in a shallow bowl and add enough cold water to cover seaweed.
  3. Set aside to soak for 10 minutes.
  4. In a skillet over low heat, toast sesame seeds until they are golden and start to pop.
  5. Transfer to a small bowl to cool.
  6. Add oil and garlic to skillet, and heat just until fragrant.
  7. Drain wakame and toss with sesame seeds, oil and garlic, and tamari.
  8. Chill and serve cold.

 

*That is not to say that I would ever, ever, ever!, in a billion years, eat anything that came out of the Long Island Sound.