Wakame (Alaria marginata) on the west coast of California is a beautiful, magnificently abundant genus of marine algae. This nutritious, edible seaweed is considered a brown seaweed.
The long, broad, gracefully flowing ribbons of Alaria cling to the rocks in the lower intertidal zones. The olive-green fronds grow to over 30 feet in length and swirl together among the waves looking like long tresses of hair when fully grown.
We wild-harvest Wakame from the end of June through July, when it is at its fullest size and flavor. The harvestable fronds are about 6-10 inches wide and up to several yards long. A flat midrib, ½ inch or so wide, extends along the length of the frond. Once we cut the Wakame just below the hold-fast, leaving the sporophylls and stipe, we take it home to dry. The wakame will regenerate from the parts we leave behind.
We dry wakame by cutting it into “bacon” sized pieces and spreading out on our drying racks. This process takes some time, but is well worth it, as it gives the seaweed more drying surface area, which means it dries quicker and it is already cut into the size we need for packaging. Harvesting and drying wakame is an all-day event and can be very meditative if you keep cool and rest often.
Wakame is full of so many nutrients! It is particularly high in calcium, vitamin A. phytoestrogens and omega-3 essential fatty acids. All seaweeds contain a broad array of trace minerals and antioxidants which help prevent cell damage by binding with free radicals. Wakame is low in calories and small amounts are sufficient to help ingest the trace minerals.
According to research done and reported in the Journal of Applied Phycology 2013, and the Japanese Journal of Cancer Research 2001, as well as the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2020, wakame may be a contributing factor to lower breast cancer incidences, because components in wakame have been shown to block and inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Daily consumption of seaweed has been proposed as a factor in explaining lower postmenopausal breast cancer incidence and mortality rates in Japan.
Wakame has a subtly sweet flavor and distinctive satiny texture. It is most often served in soups and salads. I love sipping on a daily broth of wakame and miso.
Here is my easy recipe for Wakame Soup!
- 1 quart water
- 1-2 dried pieces dried Wakame
- 1 Tablespoon miso paste (I like South River Miso)
- Boil Wakame in water for 20 minutes. Remove wakame and cut into small strips, and return to the broth. (You may want to remove the midrib before you put into water, or after. It can be a bit chewy).
- Remove about ¼ cup of broth from pan and stir in your miso. Return miso mix to pan, stir and serve.
Alternatively, you can add cloves of sliced garlic, dried diced ginger root 10 minutes before removing from heat.
This wonderful broth can be also be a base for any soup. Add your vegetables during the last 10 minutes of boiling. Just make sure to turn off the heat before adding your miso.
This month’s special is wakame! For every order over $50, I will include a 1-ounce bag of wakame for you to play with.
Enjoy in good health and Happy 2022!
Terry, a.k.a. the Seaweed Mermaid