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Wakame

Wakame has a crisp consistency and has a subtle briny and sweet flavor. It can be used raw or cooked and is rich in iodine (10–20 mg/100 g dry weight).

Wakame is a brown algae that is widely used in Asian countries to flavor hot pots and soups. In Japan, wakame is served in miso soup along with tofu. And this edible seaweed is becoming increasing popular in Europe. Wakame tastes particularly good in combination with cucumbers in green salads. The wakame sold is Europe is usually dried and is not necessarily “raw.” It depends on what type of drying and production process is used.

Mekabu wakame, the sprouts of wakame above the roots, is sold commercially and is especially rich in nutrients. It has a stronger taste, but also requires longer cooking times.

General information:

From Wikipedia: Wakame (ワカメ wakame?), Undaria pinnatifida, is a sea vegetable, or edible seaweed. It has a subtly sweet flavour and is most often served in soups and salads.

Sea-farmers have grown wakame in Japan since the Nara period.”

Nutritional information:

“New studies conducted at Hokkaido University have found that a compound in wakame known as fucoxanthin an help burn fatty tissue. Studies in mice have shown that fucoxanthin induces expression of the fat-burning protein UCP1 that accumulates in fat tissue around the internal organs. Expression of UCP1 protein was significantly increased in mice fed fucoxanthin. Wakame is also used in topical beauty treatments. See also Fucoidan.

Wakame is a rich source of eicosapentaenoic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid. At over 400 mg/100 kcal or almost 1 mg/kJ, it has one of the higher nutrient:calorie ratios for this nutrient, and among the very highest for a vegetarian source. A typical 1-2 tablespoon serving of wakame contains roughly 3.75–7.5 kcal and provides 15–30 mg of omega-3 fatty acids. Wakame also has high levels of sodium, calcium, iodine, thiamine and niacin.”

Culinary uses:

“Wakame fronds are green and have a subtly sweet flavour and satiny texture. The leaves should be cut into small pieces as they will expand during cooking.

In Japan and Europe, wakame is distributed either dried or salted, and used in soups (particularly miso soup), and salads (tofu salad), or often simply as a side dish to tofu and a salad vegetable like cucumber. These dishes are typically dressed with soy sauce and vinegar/rice vinegar.

Goma wakame, also known as seaweed salad, is a popular side dish at American and European sushi restaurants. Literally translated, it means "sesame seaweed", as sesame seeds are usually included in the recipe.”

Medicinal uses:

“In Oriental medicine it has been used for blood purification, intestinal strength, skin, hair, reproductive organs and menstrual regularity.

In Korea, the soup miyeokguk is popularly consumed by women after giving birth as sea mustard (miyeok) contains a high content of calcium and iodine, nutrients that are important for nursing new mothers. Many women consume it during the pregnancy phase as well. It is also traditionally eaten on birthdays for this reason, a reminder of the first food that the mother has eaten and passed on to her newborn through her milk, thus bringing good fortune for the rest of the year.”

Aquaculture:

“Japanese and Korean sea-farmers have grown wakame for centuries, and are still both the leading producers and consumers. Wakame has also been cultivated in France since 1983, in sea fields established near the shores of Brittany.

Wild grown wakame is harvested in Tasmania, Australia, and then sold in restaurants in Sydney and also sustainably hand-harvested from the waters of Foveaux Strait in Southland, New Zealand and freeze-dried for retail and use in a range of products.”

Invasive species:

“Native to cold temperate coastal areas of Japan, Korea, and China, in recent decades it has become established in temperate regions around the world, including New Zealand, the United States, Belgium, France, Great Britain, Spain, Italy, Argentina, Australia and Mexico. It was nominated one of the 100 worst invasive species in the world.”