Living for a while in Japan does strange things to your food preferences. Instead of thinking, “eating seaweed? PHEW!” one gets a warm glow and a faraway look in one’s eyes thinking, “Eating seaweed? Ahhh. Yummm. Which kind do I want? Some sautéed hijiki? Crumpled nori with sesame and shoyu over rice? How about some silky wakame soup?” Many moons ago I saw some kale seaweed salad at the deli counter in Whole Foods in San Francisco and excitedly gave it a try. It was wonderful – the kale, ginger, sesame, seaweed and seasoning worked so well together. A week ago I saw the kale seaweed salad again at Whole Foods, this time in the Sacramento store and bought some. Not telling my father what was in it, other than kale, I got him to try some. “That’s great! Make some!” was his response, not caring one whit after I told him all that was in it. If my 75 year old, midwestern, meat-and-potatoes father can gobble up this dish, anyone can.
A few of points about this recipe. First, what to call it. The Whole Foods version is labeled a salad, and the kale is barely wilted. I prefer the kale a little more cooked, but then it is no longer a salad, it’s more like a side dish. So, take your pick. Second, the recipe requires a seasoning with the unappetizing name of Bragg Liquid Aminos. This is a soy sauce substitute. It is completely natural, not fermented, and contains no wheat. It can be found at almost any health food store and Whole Foods. Bragg really is delicious and after discovering it years ago I use it regularly to season veggies. If you don’t have access to Bragg you can substitute soy sauce, but cut the amount by half to start. Finally, I have no idea how Whole Foods actually makes their version. This recipe I made up myself based on the ingredients that were listed with the Whole Foods salad.
Kale with Seaweed, Sesame and Ginger Recipe
- 1/2 cup dried arame sea vegetables (food-grade seaweed)
- Dark sesame oil, about 2 Tbsp
- 1 Tbsp peeled and minced ginger
- 1 bunch kale (we used dinosaur kale for fun)
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 2 Tbsp Bragg Liquid Aminos
- 1 Tbsp Toasted sesame seeds
1 Rinse the seaweed in water and let soak, covered in water for 5-7 minutes. Drain seaweed and place in a large bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of dark sesame oil and the minced ginger.
2 Prepare kale by soaking in water to loosen any dirt, rinsing thoroughly. Chop cross-wise into 1-inch by 2-inch pieces.
3 In a large covered skillet, uncover and heat 2 teaspoons of dark sesame oil on medium heat. Add garlic and gently sauté for one minute, until fragrant. Add the seaweed and ginger, gently cook for 1 minute. Remove seaweed/ginger/garlic from pan back to the bowl and set aside.
4 Heat 1 Tbsp sesame oil in the skillet. Add the chopped kale. Add 3 Tbsp of Braggs. Gently mix in the pan to coat the kale with the oil and Bragg. Cover; lower heat to low; let cook for 5-10 minutes or until kale is wilted - soft enough to eat easily, but not so soft as to be mushy. Remove cover and let cook a minute more to evaporate any excess moisture. Remove from heat. Mix in the kale with the seaweed ginger mixture. Add more sesame oil and Braggs to taste. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.
Yield: Serves 4.