THE SALTY CHEF-with Guest Chef Sarah Forrester Wendt

Seaweed: Guest Chef Sarah Forrester Wendt of My Plum, My Duck shows us the versatility of our ocean’s briny delicacies

Chef Sarah Forrester Wendt of My Plum, My Duck//Photo credit: Laura Weatherbie/Salty

Despite living in a place surrounded by ocean, seaweed isn’t something that shows up on our dinner plates as often as it did in the past. Sure there is the goma wakame we see at sushi restaurants (and even the grocery store), but the seaweed pie mentioned in a certain bologna commercial in the 1980s is actually a fine example of a homegrown use of seaweed. There are many ways to use this flexible algae.

These recipes certainly share a strong Asian influence, particularly in the use of traditional complementary flavors such as sesame and soy, but for one recipe I’ve thrown in a Canadian staple, maple, which is just as harmonious. The maple is a nice counterpoint to the saltiness and umami of the seaweed while complementing its natural, if subtle, sweetness.

A word on the previously-mentioned seaweed pie. I haven’t included a recipe for this but if you are curious, seaweed pie is actually more like a pudding. Although you may have pictured a pie with leafy, salty, greens sticking out of it, that’s not the case. For seaweed pie you can use a Graham cracker crust which is filled with milk, sugar, and vanilla that had been cooked with chondrus crispus: Irish moss. Natural gelling agents are drawn out of the seaweed during cooking creating a firm, creamy, vanilla pudding.

The seaweed I’ve used in these recipes: nori, kelp, and wakame (a type of kelp itself), are all locally sourced so you shouldn’t have any problem finding them.

Algae has been used as a foodstuff for thousands of years and are an excellent source of many minerals and vitamins (including some B12, come on vegans!), but more importantly, taste wonderfully of the sea and can help us make a connection with the land and the “bounding main” that surrounds and defines us.

Ingredients for Tofu wontons//Photo credit: Laura Weatherbie/Salty

Kelp and Tofu Wontons
1 block tofu, pressed for 10 minutes to remove excess liquid
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
1/2 cup soaked kelp, sliced thin
2 Tbsp umeboshi vinegar
1 Tbsp tahini
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp mirin
2 green onions, finely chopped
Wonton wrappers
Heatherdale Wholesome Goods organic canola oil for frying

1. In a large bowl, crumble tofu and then mix in other ingredients, combining well.
2. Place a heaping tablespoon of mixture in middle of wonton wrapper, wet edges of wonton with warm water, then fold in half to make a triangle and press edges together to seal.
3. Coat skillet generously with oil.
4. Fry each wonton on both sides in a covered skillet until golden brown.
5. Place on paper towels to drain excess oil. Serve with dipping sauce of your choice.


Seaweed Snaps

Seaweed Snaps//Photo credit: Laura Weatherbie/Salty

Seaweed Snaps
1/3 cup Heatherdale Wholesome Goods organic canola oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup hemp seeds
6 sheets nori seaweed, torn into little pieces or whole nori or sea lettuce chopped into small pieces
1 tsp soy sauce

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Pour canola oil and maple syrup into a large skillet. Bring to a frothy boil and add sliced almonds, stir. Add sesame seeds, hemp seeds, and nori pieces. Sprinkle in soy sauce. Continue stirring until everything is coated.
3. Pour out onto a even layer on the parchment paper.
4. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool, break apart, and enjoy.


Cucumber Wakame Salad

Cucumber Wakame Salad//Photo credit: Richard Schroeter/Salty

Cucumber Wakame Salad
1-1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup soaked wakame, sliced
2 cups cucumber, halved and sliced
Soy sauce
Rice vinegar
Grated fresh ginger (approximately 2 Tbsp)

1. Bring water to boil in a pot. Add the wakame and simmer for 1-2 minutes (or until soft, no longer than 5 minutes). Drain the wakame and allow it to cool. When cool, slice into narrow slices.
2. Put the cucumbers in a bowl, add the wakame, and mix.
3. Prepare a sauce by mixing equal small amounts of soy sauce and rice vinegar. Take the grated fresh ginger and squeeze the juice into the soy/vinegar sauce and stir together. Pour the sauce over the wakame and cucumbers and mix well.

About Stephen Hunter

Stephen Hunter teaches the à la carte practical program at The Culinary Institute of Canada at Holland College in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. He's also the Chef Instructor for evening dining at the Lucy Maud Dining Room.

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