Cooking with Wildish Flair
by Marie Summerwood
Some Musings on Food and Nourishment
Seaweed Oh! Seaweed
At Grant Junior High School, we had an annual science fair. I loved science and gave talks every year because I enjoyed getting up in front of people. One year I gave a science talk on X-Ray and its inventor Wilhelm Roentgen. My father's job was in x-ray and he helped me by developing various films to illustrate the points I was making. Another year I gave a talk on chromatography. I recall using lemon extract mixed with food colorings. The round thick test paper absorbed the mixture up its wick, and separated it into ring after beautiful ring of all the colors present. A few colors showed up only under ultraviolet light.
Some students did projects instead of talks and the gym was filled every year with demos and displays on various topics. In eighth grade I remember one display done by a girl I knew, Judith H. It was about "new" discoveries of uses for seaweed. This was the early 60's, so it was a topic new to most people. Judith had pictures and information on seaweed uses in Food (a plate of cookies there, untouched), in Cosmetics, Agriculture, the list went on and on.
As I recall, her project didn't win, but I'll never forget being completely disgusted and appalled by the thought of eating or using seaweed at all. Spare me, as we used to say in eighth grade. Mind you, I had never been at the ocean, and it was probably lakeweed that informed my opinions, that and the TV show "Sea Hunt" I saw seaweed as mysterious, dangerous, weird. Nothing I'd ever want to eat. Spare me.
Today some of my favorite culinary delights are made with sea vegetables; sea palm fronds, arame, kelp, nori, hiziki, dulse, wakame, kombu and on and on. They each offer a different taste, just like land vegetables. They all offer generous, abundant good quality mineral salts. I can only think they are more bio-available to us than supplements, since we evolved with plants, not pills. When I get enough money, I may fund a study for that one.
I began using sea vegetables when I studied macrobiotics and liked them right away. As a salt lover, if I'm honest, I must admit that macrobiotics allowed me to put enough tamari on them so they tasted great. Since then, however, I have come to appreciate the various tastes and personalities without so much tamari and to realize that they actually satisfy a deep craving for minerals.
As a child I loved to eat dirt and pieces of chalk from the school blackboard were a favorite treat. I craved salt, would lick it from my palm. I ate French clay once for quitting smoking and avidly looked forward each day to that 1/8 tsp. of clay in water. Seaweed is that kind of taste, a satisfying earth flavor that lasts. We must be genetically evolved to like the taste of salt, since it is essential for life.
Commercial salt is refined and only sodium chloride (NaCl) gets the name of "salt" in our inferior nutritional training. The flavor of sodium chloride is enough to temporarily satisfy our taste buds but it is not the full panoply of mineral salts and soon we want more salt!!
Seaweed is an efficient, delicious way to take in high quality nutrition. Polluted waters are a concern, so choose your vendor well. During my macrobiotic days I loved arame best, but now it's a toss up among sea palm fronds and so many others.
by Marie Summerwood
1 medium onion, chopped
4 TB olive oil
1/2 c chopped daikon
1/2 c chppd mushrooms
2 c chopped bok choy
12" wakame or alaria
l handful nereocyctis or other seaweed of your choice*
2/3 tsp good salt 8 c hot water
parsley/watercress garnish your choice of miso
Soak wakame 15 minutes. Drain and cut into small pieces. Heat oil in heavy bottom pan or skillet. Add onion and saute until translucent. Add mushroom and saute until it softens and releases its liquid; add bok choy and daikon and saute 2 or 3 minutes to coat them with oil and get them hot.
Now add the seaweeds and stir for a minute for the same reason (add a little more oil if you need it).
Add the salt and water, cover, bring to boil and simmer gently 20 minutes or until everything is cooked.
Start with 3 TB miso in a cup, add a little water to make a paste, then add to soup. More to taste. Garnish and serve
*If your chosen seaweed needs to cook longer, cook it ahead and add just before the miso.