Japanese Sun-Dried Seaweed
An abundance of marine life flourishes in the pure waters along central Japan's rocky Pacific coast. Prized as a specialty of the region, Ise Arame grows wild in deep tidal pools at the ocean's edge. Over a thousand years ago, Arame was collected and used as a sacred offering at the famous Ise shrine. To this day, Ise Wild Arame is harvested in the same way. In late summer, local fishermen wade out to gather the young, tender plants at low tide, or dive into shallow water to cut the Arame from its hold-fasts. The wide leaves are finely shredded and cooked down in their own juices, then naturally sun-dried.
With its sweet, mild flavor, Arame is an excellent choice for introducing sea vegetables into your daily diet. Its rich black color adds vivid contrast and beauty to any meal. Mitoku Ise Arame contributes an exotic flair to salads and is delicious when sautéed with carrots and onions, or sautéed with dried tofu.
Uses: Miso Soup or other soup stocks, sauces, noodle broth, salads, or cook with vegetables or beans.
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Cooking with Arame
Arame's considerably milder aroma and taste make it a good choice for anyone just beginning to use sea vegetables.
Arame should be rinsed quickly but carefully to remove foreign matter such as sand and shells, then soaked in water to cover. Arame is delicate, and needs only to be soaked five minutes. Longer soaking draws out the important nutrients and waterlogs these vegetables making them less able to absorb the flavor of seasonings used in the recipe.
If you use the soaking water in cooking, pour it carefully so as not to disturb any sand or shells that may have sunk to the bottom. Keep back a small amount in the bowl and then discard it. Using the soaking water results in a somewhat stronger flavor and decreases the need for added salt or shoyu. In the recipes that follow, fresh water was used, so if you choose to use soaking water, cut the amount of shoyu in half, and add more only if needed.
Take into consideration that soaking increases the dried volume of arame by about three times. One cup of dried arame will become three cups when soaked. For general preparation, squeeze out excess water after soaking and sauté the sea vegetable in a little oil for a few minutes. Add soaking water or fresh water to almost cover and simmer until the vegetable is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed (about twenty-five minutes). Finally, season the tender vegetables with shoyu and mirin (if desired), and cook a few minutes more. Arame is delicious when sautéed with sweet vegetables such as carrots, slow-cooked onions, winter squash, lotus root, shiitake, and dried daikon radish. Arame is also delicious when served with deep-fried fresh tofu or when sautéed with dried tofu. A little chopped arame can be combined with cooked rice, millet, or barley. Arame makes a good addition to salads, especially when topped with a tofu dressing.
Arame with Deep-Fried Tofu
Fried tofu and arame make a delicious combination. The addition of watercress offers fresh taste and eye appeal.
8-ounce block of fresh tofu
3 tablespoons Mitoku Organic Kuzu
Mitoku Virgin Sesame Oil for deep frying
1 cup Mitoku Arame, cold spring water to cover
1 tablespoon Mitoku Mikawa Mirin
1/2 tablespoon Mitoku Johsen Shoyu
2 bunches watercress, cut into 1-inch lengths
To remove excess moisture, wrap tofu in a clean, dry kitchen towel and place on a wooden cutting board. Place a 2-3 pound weight on top and leave 20-30 minutes. Uncover tofu, cut crosswise into 1?2-inch slices, then cut slices into 3?4-inch cubes. Roll tofu cubes in arrowroot to lightly coat all surfaces. In a small, deep pot, heat 2 inches oil to 350°F. Add several pieces of tofu (do not overcrowd pot) and fry until golden brown. (Remove all pieces from one batch before adding more tofu.) Drain fried tofu on absorbent paper towel.
Rinse arame quickly under cold water and soak 5-7 minutes. Drain, reserving soaking water, and rinse again. Place arame in a pot and add soaking water (discarding any sediment). If needed, add fresh water to almost cover arame. Bring to a boil. Add mirin. Cover pot, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Add shoyu and fried tofu. Cook until most liquid has evaporated (about 10 minutes). Add watercress and mix well. Place in a bowl and serve.
Arame Shiitake Pasta Salad
1/2 lb Mitoku Donko Shiitake, soaked and coarsely chopped
1 TB extra virgin olive oil
6 TB balsamic vinegar
1/2 oz dried Mitoku Arame (approx 3/4 cup pre-soaked)
1/2 lb farfalle (bowtie) pasta, cooked, drained and cooled
5 green onions, sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into matchstick pieces
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Masu 100% Sea Water Salt, to taste
ground black pepper, to taste
Sauté Shiitake in 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil over medium high heat until brown and beginning to stick, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat, add balsamic vinegar to pan, stirring to scrape up any sticking bits. Stir in arame and let cool, then strain, reserving vinegar liquid.
In a large bowl, combine pasta, green onions, red bell pepper, pine nuts, basil and mushroom/arame mixture.
In a small bowl, whisk together strained vinegar with 1/2 cup olive oil, salt and pepper until creamy. Pour over salad and toss gently until well coated.