Springtime dishes call for more color and lighter, cleaner flavors. This dish relies heavily on both to let the ingredients shine in taste and appearance.
I found ito-wakame dried seaweed at 888 International Market while shopping and knew I would use it as the basis for a seaweed salad. Rather than the stringy, fluorescent green seaweed salad sold in refrigerated cases next to sushi at the supermarket, I wanted to create a boldly colored dish that could hold its own as a course rather than an appetizer.
After soaking the seaweed to rehydrate it, I squeezed excess water and lightly dressed it with a vinaigrette of rice vinegar, sesame oil, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, honey and a few drops of soy sauce. Other ingredients include Persian cucumber, watermelon radish, tri-colored carrots (purple, yellow and orange), daikon radish and Peruvian peppers that pop in the mouth with sweetness. I garnished the salad with a dusting of wasabi fumi furikake, also purchased at 888, and slightly dehydrated lemon zest for a concentrated citrus flavor and chewy texture.
This last ingredient is traditionally used as a rice seasoning. The seasoning blend comes in many combinations. This version contained sesame seed, horseradish, shaved bonito, Japanese mustard plant, sugar, seaweed and salt.
The additional vegetables provided a pleasant texture and audible crunch to contrast with the briny seaweed. To make this salad into a heartier meal, I would serve it with grilled calamari, octopus or sauteed ginger-garlic shrimp and a side of seasoned jasmine rice.
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