Sea Bounty, seaweeds and recipes

March 30th, 2010

The Oceans Give Us So Much

For centuries, people all over the world have used leaves from sea plants for miraculous healing. The Greeks collected sea weeds and used them for many purposes such as food for humans and animals, as well as fertilizers and medicine.  They used red algae as medicine to treat parasitic worms since pre-Christian times.

The oldest book in Iceland dated 961 BC includes detailed regulations about coastal property rights to be respected in the collection of sea weeds.

The Eskimos have eaten sea vegetables throughout their history. The Hawaiians grow kelp gardens in which they use more then 60 species of sea vegetables for food and medicine. The Europeans and the Asians used sea weeds also.

The sea vegetables contain an immense amount of plant compounds known as  Phyto nutrients that are necessary for proper cell functions. This type of nutrition is missing from our diet of processed foods.

Our land is impoverished by pollution and over-farming and the plants growing on it are lacking the nutrients our body needs to be healthy.

The water of the oceans contain a rich source of mineral elements that are absorbed by the sea vegetables, plus vitamins, chlorophyll, iodine, enzymes, co-enzymes, growth hormones and other organic compounds that are necessary for cellular metabolism and human survival.

These plants resemble the organic make-up of our own tissues. By digesting sea plants we bring the power of the sea and the power of the sun in our body cells, it helps detoxify and are a source of balanced nutrition.

The ocean is full of iodine; why use a chemical in place of the real thing?

Iodine deficiency has a damaging effect on the development of the brain. Thyroid hormones need iodine especially for fetal development and to prevent mental retardation.

Sea salt in America is made with sodium chloride a type of salt that does not contain iodine, so potassium iodide is added to the sodium chloride. These compounds are pharmaceuticals manufactured by drug companies in order to create “stability”.

We now know that a side effect of this “salt” is hypo or hyper thyroid-ism, which has grown now to epidemic proportions.

An incredible improvement occurs after including in your diet organic iodine found in SEA SALT and SEA VEGETABLES.

SEA VEGETABLES (SEAWEED)

You mean you eat that stuff? Why is it good for you and why do you eat it? Where do you get it and how do you prepare it?

These are all fair questions and we hear them all the time. Many who are beginning on the health mode find sea vegetables unappetizing and don’t see why they are considered necessary in the regimen. My answers:

Yes, it is very difficult to accept this taste for many people, especially those who have a heavy dairy component in their diet. For some reason, the two are simply not compatible and it doesn’t pay to try and force it in the beginning.

For beginners there are ways to get the nourishment from these key ingredients, without alarming sensitive taste buds. Examples of this are cooking beans with Kombu, Wakame in the Miso soup and cooking grain with with a postage stamp size of Kombu.

KOMBU also called KELP

Harvested in Japan or along the Maine coast of the U.S., this vegetable is thick, wide and deep green in color. In the Oceans there are forests of kelp.

We use it in cooking with all types of beans. My study reveals that the minerals in the seaweed balance the fat and protein in the beans and these minerals are important in the digestion process, making the beans more easily absorbed. The fact is that beans also improve in taste with this balance and one can get the minerals that are so important to health in this manner, without encountering the rather fishy taste of some sea vegetables.

It is tough as rawhide when dry, and can be used more than once to flavor soups and stocks and I never throws it away if I don’t eat it, but gradually dilute it as I use it in other various dishes.

Shio Kombu

This is a heavy thick Kombu, and is used as a very strong condiment.

1 ounce of dry kombu soaked and cut in 1 inch squares

3 Tbsp tamari soy sauce

½ cup spring water

Put the Kombu in a pressure cooker and add the Tamari and water. Cover and bring to pressure and cook for 10 minutes. Bring the pressure down naturally, uncover and simmer until the liquid is evaporated.

WAKAME also called ALARIA

Wakame is a vegetable leaf, that is long and thin. It has a hard stem along the center of the leaf which must be removed after soaking, so it should be cooked longer to make it tender (or cut it into very small pieces). Like other sea vegetables, Wakame is loaded with vitamins and trace minerals that are important in good nutrition. With the right combination of ingredients, no vitamin supplements are required on the macrobiotic path. I often put it in the Miso Soup; not every day, but quite often. It also finds its way into salads, for example Cucumber and Wakame salad, see recipe below..

NORI also called LAVER

Everybody likes Nori. This is best known as the wrapper for Japanese Sushi.  It is a rectangular sheet, usually just smaller than an office sheet of paper. Of course it is rich in minerals too, especially phosphorous. I use it to wrap rice balls, make Sushi of course, but our favorite way is to eat with our soup for breakfast. Just take a sheet and tear it into pieces and chew it up. It goes great with the soup.

Cucumber Salad with Wakame

Ingredients

2 or 3 Medium Cucumbers, sliced very thin

5 or 6 Red Radishes, sliced thin

¼ to ½ Cup Soaked (5 minutes) Wakame Seaweed, sliced in small pieces

3 Tbsp. Black Toasted Sesame Seeds

2 or 3 Tbsp. Rice Vinegar

Salt

Preparation

Mix cucumbers and radishes with a few pinches of salt.  Mix and then press for one hour.  Steam Wakame for 2 minutes.  (You could toast the Sesame Seeds here, if not already done).  After one hour, wash the cucumbers and radishes and drain them well.  Add the Wakame and Rice Vinegar, toss and garnish with sesame seeds.  Serve.

HIJIKI

This is a very strong tasting sea vegetable. Some people need time to acquire a taste for it. It is very alkalizing and I love it.

HIJIKI SEA VEGETABLE

Ingredients

1/2 pack dried Hijiki, soaked in enough spring water to cover.

1 grated Carrot

1 tbsp. Kelp granules

1/3 block of Tofu

1 Tbsp. Tahini (Sesame butter)

1 cup Bean Sprouts

3 tsp. Dark Barley Miso

Preparation

In a sauce pan put Hijiki with remainder of soaking water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat immediately and simmer with a lid on the pot until water is mostly evaporated (about 30 minutes).  While cooking Hijiki, prepare the sauce.

Put Tahini, Kelp and Miso in 3/4 cup hot spring water and mix well.  Let stand for at least 10 minutes.

Crumble the Tofu with your hands into small pieces.  Add to the cooking Hijiki when it is nearly dry.  Mix well and with the lid on the pot, cook for three or four minutes over low flame.  Add grated Carrot and Bean Sprouts.  Stir and simmer for 2 minutes, then add the sauce, mix well and cook one minute. Serve.

ARAME also called ALARIA

Arame could just be boiled for ½ hour and then tossed into a salad or it could be made as a side dish:

ARAME WITH SAUCE

Ingredients:

¼ cup dry arame, soaked

¼ pound tofu

1 tbsp kelp granules

2 tsp. Tahini

1 tbsp. soy sauce (Shoyu)

toasted sesame oil

Preparation

Lightly oil sauce pan with toasted sesame oil.  Heat, then add arame and enough water so it doesn’t burn.  Simmer for 20 minutes adding water so it doesn’t get dry.  While this is cooking, in a cup, mix ½ cup hot water with the tahini, then add kelp and a few drops of soy sauce and let it stand 10 minutes.  Crumble the tofu into the simmering seaweed, mix and continue to simmer another 5 minutes.  Add sauce, stir, cook another 2 minutes and serve.