Full disclosure: even if I hated seaweed and loathed green soybeans, I would still have tasted this salad based on the poetry of its name alone. I mean, how can you pass up such alliteration, such euphony, such gastronomic lyricism?
Just listen to it: AH-ra-may. EEE-da-MAH-may. “Arame” brings to mind ”aria.” And “Edamame” –well, “edamame” just makes me want to break out into song: “ How I love ya, how I love ya, my EEE-da-MAH-MAYYEEE. . . .”
When I think of poetry, most of the time I think of how much I abhorred it in university (mostly because I could never understand it). Even when I went on a poetry bender at the suggestion of my crush-cum-mentor, Dr. D, I never quite “got” it. Let’s see; here’s my experience with poetry, in a nutshell: T.S. Eliot’s “ Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock ” –I did dare, I did dare, but it just would not sing to me; Wallace Stevens’s “ Sunday Morning,”–say what? WHO is the mother of beauty? (Just too creepy); Ezra Pound’s “ In a Station of the Metro “–I was haunted by apparitions in every crowd for months; ee cummings’s “in-just” –it was spring and the world was mud-luscious, but the poems just weren’t; Sylvia Plath’s “ Daddy “–I felt the need to throw away my black telephone; William Carlos Williams’s “ The Red Wheelbarrow “–(because so much depends on a red poet–no, make that red poet’s society–no; oh, whatever. Who cares?)
In the end, I felt as if I’d read thousands of miles of poetry and all I got was a lousy T-shirt.
One form of verse that always did intrigue me, though, was haiku (you were wondering how all this related to the recipe, weren’t you? And here we are: both Japanese-themed!). I’m sure you’re familiar with the stuff–a specific set of three metered lines, first seven syllables, then five, then another seven. What’s great about haiku is that pretty much anyone can do it.
In fact, the HH informs me that even he composed in this form of verse once, in grade school. Here’s his masterpiece:
He comes off the ride.
As the fair whirls round his head,
His dinner comes up.
Ah, yes, HH, The Sensitive Artiste.
More than anything else, I think that haiku makes poetry easy and accessible.
Well, think of this salad as the haiku of Japanese food, if you like–making seaweed accessible to all (or “sea vegetables,” if you prefer the more literary term). If you’ve ever wondered about kombu, nori, wakame, dulse, or any of those others but have been afraid to try them, this seaweed salad is for you. In fact, it’s already been taste-tested (and mightily approved) by hundreds of thousands of others, since I modeled this recipe on the extremely popular salad of the same name sold at Planet Organic stores. Except at Planet Organic, it sells for something like $6.99 per 100 grams ($31.73 a pound), which means you pay approximately $17.42 for two tablespoons (okay, I’m exaggerating–but just a little). Clearly, my version is infinitely preferable.
The salad is incredibly simple to prepare, with just arame (a fairly mild seaweed that looks sort of like black spaghetti) and edamame (green soy beans) as the major ingredients. Toss these with a rice vinegar/sesame oil dressing and some lightly toasted sesame seeds, and you’ve got yourself a delectable dish that perfectly combines sweet (the beans), salty (the tamari) and even umami (the seaweed). The bonus is a great source of protein and Vitamin C from the edamame, plus some much-needed trace minerals (and a few major ones, too) from the seaweed.
The soy and seaweed
Are in perfect harmony.
You will love this dish.
Arame and Edamame Salad
This makes a great appetizer salad or side dish to miso soup, sushi, or any other light fare–but it’s delicious on its own, too.
2/3 cup dry arame (don’t pack it or you’ll end up with too much–it really expands while soaking).**
about 1 cup shelled edamame (see how much arame you end up with after soaking, and use about double the amount of edamame)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) rice vinegar (seasoned is fine)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) tamari or soy sauce (use GF for gluten-free version)
2 Tbsp (30 ml) lightly toasted sesame seeds
5-8 drops liquid stevia or 1-2 tsp (5-10 ml) agave nectar, to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp (15 ml) sesame oil
1/8-1/4 tsp (.5-1 ml) fine sea salt, to taste
Place the dry arame in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water; allow to sit 5-15 minutes, until the arame is soft and about double in bulk (the longer it soaks, the less it retains a “fishy” taste). Drain and reserve 1 Tbsp (15 ml) of the soaking liquid, if desired.
Cook the edamame according to package directions (if not pre-cooked) and allow to cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients except for the arame. Add the drained arame, edamame and soaking liquid (if desired) and stir to coat the soy and seaweed. Allow to sit at least 15 minutes before serving (this is actually better the next day). Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Makes 3 servings.
** You can use wakame instead if you like, since it looks almost the same once soaked; but beware, wakame is known to have more of a “fishy” taste than arame.