You’ve heard me sing the praises of seaweed before on this blog, so you can imagine how excited I was for Sea Vegetables class!
I regularly use dulse in my kitchen, adding strips to my salads and flakes to numerous other dishes in place of sea salt. I’ve used kombu when cooking beans. And nori for miso soup and sushi rolls. But my horizons have been broadened after this class!
One of the best uses I learned for seaweed that day was with one called agar agar (kanten). You may know this one from science class, as it’s often used as the culture medium in petri dishes. But because of its ability to gel, it is used in the culinary world as a thickener. One of my classmates was assigned Apple-Pomegranate Kanten with Cashew Cream. The agar agar was dissolved (and boiled) with unsweetened fresh apple juice, then apple pieces and pomegranate seeds were suspended while it was cooling. The result was a dish similar to a Jell-O salad, but without all the sugar and artificial ingredients.
I was so excited to make a version of this at home for MSP. He picked unsweetened grape juice and here is the result (recipe at the bottom of this post):
I garnished it with a little TruWhip and some ground flaxseed. (A shout out to my grandma for handing down her wine glasses to me, which also serve as beautiful dessert dishes!)
Agar agar is pretty cool, huh? What a great way to make desserts for kids that are natural, high in minerals and fiber and FUN! You would NEVER know you are eating seaweed – there is no flavor from the agar agar.
This is also a good substitute for gelatin in a vegan diet, since gelatin is an animal product.
The recipe I got to work on that day was Sea Vegetable Caviar. We used wakame for this dish, but to make it look like little caviar ‘eggs’, arame is the suggested option. You soak the seaweed to reconstitute it, sauté it in some sesame oil, add some water and tamari, bring to a boil then let all the liquid cook out. Add in some sauteed minced garlic/shallots, a little ginger and lemon juice to taste, place on top of a flax cracker, and you have a fun appetizer sure to be a conversation starter at your next dinner party!
You can tell your guests all about how full of minerals sea veggies are, how well they detox the body and that they are a highly alkaline food, helping to cut down the acid in the blood. And they are easy to make look pretty on the platter – this was probably my best plating presentation yet!
A couple of other dishes we ate that day included nori-wrapped whitefish:
And sesame sweet potatoes with wakame:
Do you use seaweed in any of your daily nutrition? If not, are you convinced to give it a try? I was a seaweed lover before but am even more excited now to incorporate these amazing superfoods into my daily recipes, knowing how FANTASTIC it is for our bodies. I’ve already picked up some arame at the store and made a seaweed salad for dinner Sunday night.
Have a FABULOUS day friends! See you next time!
– Shari B. =)
If you weren’t online over the weekend, check out the previous recap post about Grains, Legumes, Nuts and Seeds.
Edited to add Agar Agar “Jell-O” recipe by popular demand
Here’s what you need to know:
- Choose your favorite juice (preferably fresh squeezed and unsweetened)
- For 6 servings that are wine glass sized like I made, use 2 cups of juice and 1 to 1.5 tablespoons agar agar. (I used 1.5 and feel that it could have been dropped down to 1 tbsp. if your package has you using one tablespoon to one cup liquid, ignore it! Mine did too!)
- Mix them together in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and continue stirring to ensure the agar agar is fully dissolved.
- Pour into 6 wine glasses or dessert dishes. Let them sit for 10 minutes while you chop up your favorite fruit to ‘suspend’ in the dessert. At school we used pomegranate seeds and apples. Pick something that matches with your juice selection. I only needed 1 apple (finely diced) and the seeds from half of one pomegranate. More or less to your liking will work! Add the fruit to the glasses and then refrigerate for at least one hour.
- You can garnish with some TruWhip like we did or you can make a homemade vegan cashew cream whipped topping, like we did at school.
Let me know what your friends and family say when you serve this!