Thursday, November 9, 2006

Seaweed - a delicate and luscious meal

The words stir and fry usually put me in a bad mood. There is nothing that annoys me more (well, quite a few things actually, but I’ll save those thoughts for another time) than someone saying, ‘How about we have a quick stir fry for dinner?’ How I dread the ubiquitous and tasteless vegetable stir fry served on its bed of watery rice. So often it is badly done, especially by me. But there are some vegetables that seem to cry out for the spirit of this style of cooking, if not the actual method itself. Simplicity, as with most things it seems, is the key to success.

Arame is a fine, string-like seaweed that, unlike some of the thicker and juicier seaweeds, is easy to like and unimaginably easy to cook. Edible seaweeds are highly nutritious and have long been cultivated by humans. A world away from the slimy, rotting greenery that lies washed up on the beach, these seaweeds offer vitamins and minerals just not available in their land-based counterparts – arame and its interchangeable cousin hijiki are uber-high in calcium, iron and iodine. If I’m ever feeling a bit low this is the meal I find myself craving. Boring it ain’t. Easy it is. I’m not sure where the recipe came from, but am very, very glad that it did.

You’ll probably need to go to a health food shop to find the seaweed, or an Asian grocer. This takes about 10 minutes all up to make if you use arame. If you are using hijiki, it will need to soak for 15 minutes before cooking, but this hardly a chore.

Arame and carrot stir-fry - serves 1
1 cup of dried arame or hijiki
1 tablespoon of sesame oil (the dark, roasted stuff)
1 large carrot, sliced into very thin, long matchsticks
2 ½ cm knob of ginger, peeled and sliced as per the carrots
1 dessertspoon of tamari or soy sauce

Soak the arame in cold water for 5 minutes (15 minutes for the hijiki). Drain and set aside.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a high heat and add the carrot and ginger. Stir fry over this high heat for 2 minutes by which time the carrot will be starting to brown and soften.

Lower the heat to medium, add the drained arame and continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the tamari or soy sauce and cook for 30 seconds more. Serve immediately.

1 comment:

kathryn said...

How to convert a non-carrot lover and someone highly suspicious of seaweed? This is the dish. Gosh it's good and so easy. I finished up the rest of a very old packet of arame in this, but now I'm going to have to buy more - so this can become a regular part of our diet.

I added a tiny bit of rice wine vinegar to the final mix, my taste buds wanted a smidgeon of sour in there. And I also cut up a really small amount of tofu - in long strips, like the carrots. As I also wanted a bit of protein. But otherwise . . . did exactly what you said.

It's genius Lucy.