Edible seaweeds are found in many Asian dishes. Probably the most well known is nori which is dried and formed into sheets used for making sushi and maki. But there are so many other edible seaweeds — in fact, when we were in Albay last summer, dried noodles made from seaweed were sold in markets and stalls in tourist areas.
In Japanese cooking, apart from nori, probably the most familiar seaweed to us Filipinos is wakame — those little bits of green that we find in miso soup. But did you know that there are actually two kinds of seaweed in miso soup? The broth is made with dashi which is the result by boiling together the seaweed called kelp and the fish called bonito. I’ll show you what kelp looks like when I try my hand at making dashi at home. Right now, let’s talk about wakame.
Wakame is an edible seaweed and it is good or bad depending on which part of the world you live in. In New Zealand, it is considered invasive. In Japan and Korea, it is good food.
In local markets, packs of dried wakame are sold cut and uncut. Uncut, it looks like dried thick grass. The strands need to be soaked in water then cut before use. Cut dried wakame (above) is more convenient to use. Just place in a bowl, add warm water…
… and the wakame swells considerably and is ready to eat.
There is another kind of seaweed, sold locally simply as Korean seaweed, that is larger and thicker than wakame. This is the seaweed used for making the soup called miyeok guk which is traditionally served during birthdays in Korea.
Dried Korean seaweed must be soaked to rehydrate then cooked to soften.