wakame wha’?

wakame for snacking

wakame for snacking

Those bloggers in the Cooking Through the Alphabet gang are wild folk. First, they tested me with T for Tofu (I jumped in late); next, U was assigned to udon. With V came vanilla beans, which seemed a simpler ingredient. But then BAM–they toss out wakame. Wha’?

While I love playing in the kitchen and do know a fair amount about food, I am not a sophisticated cook. I know seaweed in sushi and have also floated pieces of kombu in the pot when cooking dried beans. But outside of that, I don’t know dulse from hijiki from wakame. My work was cut out for me.

Google is a wonderful thing, though, and I found a smoked tofu wakame dip that intrigued. But I didn’t have smoked tofu and I had a bunch of spinach in the fridge that seemed a good fit. It turned into a bit of a pinch-and-dash affair, but I was thrilled with the final spread. It could pass for a dip–think raw veggies, pita chips, bagel thins–but I like it best slathered on dark bread and topped with lettuce, tomato, and sprouts.

Flavorwise, this spread is creamy, savory, salty. The wakame gives it a (not unpleasant) wallop of what I can only call “vegetal,” which tastes much better than it sounds. Perhaps it is the much laudedΒ umami flavor, treasured by those who love Parmesan and blue cheeses, steak, mushrooms, and other deeply savory foods. However you describe it, this wakame spread seems a perfect way to balance deliciousness with good-for-you.

savory deliciousness

savory deliciousness

Tofu-Spinach-Wakame Spread

  • Small handful dried wakame
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1/3 cup diced onion
  • Lots of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • Few dashes soy sauce
  • 8 ounces soft tofu, drained and chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh spinach, washed and stems discarded
  • Few dashes fish sauce
  • Generous sprinkle crushed red chile flakes

Soften wakame in small amount of boiling water.

Meanwhile, in small skillet, heat oil. Add onion and garlic; saute until tender. Sprinkle with soy sauce. Add tofu, spinach, and wakame with steeping liquid; cook, stirring, until spinach is softened and cooked down. With immersion blender (or transfer mixture to standing blender), puree until smooth. Stir in additional soy sauce, fish sauce, and chile flakes to taste. Makes about 2 cups.

Many thanks to Shanna, Sofia, and Ngan for pushing me into the unknown. I’m heading over to their links now to see what fun they’ve had with wakame. Please do the same!

47 thoughts on “wakame wha’?

  1. Magnificent, Liz! I knew you would use dried seaweed in the most unexpected way. I need to remember to think outside the box some more. I would never have thought to make a dip with it, combined with tofu and spinach no less. Looks great and healthy! You know what would be great to dip in this? Your fried udon sticks! πŸ™‚

    • Thanks, Ngan. I need to go off the beaten path because I can’t outcook you, remember? πŸ˜‰ I was amazed at how much the wakame boosted the flavor, though it was subtle and not so much a punch in your face. We can dip fried udon in wakame dip, then enjoy soft-serve vanilla ice cream with a cuppa tea πŸ˜€

  2. Wild folk? Am I included in that? Introvert me doesn’t often feel wild πŸ˜‰ I love what you made, so creative, I would have never thought of making a spread with wakame, what a brilliant idea. I have some wakame left (we are now fans of wakame in my house) but have to buy some more because I need to make Ngan’s and your recipe! xx

    • lol, Sofia. You’re the original wild folk πŸ˜‰ I was clueless on where to start, so let google do the search for me. Mostly I saw soups and salads, but there was this one dip. Also saw a recipe for wakame spinach-artichoke dip, but I liked the idea of using tofu.

      Curious where you found yours so easily. I had a very hard time hunting it down. And even then, I didn’t find it in the same form that you and Ngan did. ??

      Thanks for the fun game. No idea where to go with X. Maybe that could be a mystery ingredient?

      • I do that too, when I have an ingredient, look in the internet for ideas, though usually its just for ideas, I’m terrible at strictly following recipes. Tofu with wakame sounds good.
        With regards to muy recipe I completely invented it. I was actually going to use chicken, but when we went to buy the wakame, it smelt so sea-ish that Mr. H. said no way, you have to use fish you can’t use chicken! And it made complete sense. And with regards to the sauce I put on top, I sort of invented it along the way, it was really delicious!
        X might be quite a mystery! We’ll have to think up ingredients that begin with X which might be a feat in itself!

    • Thanks, Suzanne. Am flattered to have taught YOU something πŸ™‚ It was tastier than I’d expected. Already excited to have a tofu-wakame-spinach spread sandwich for lunch tomorrow!

  3. This spread is like none I’ve seen before, Liz! I’m intrigued. I’ve only had seaweed in sushi or floating in my miso soup, but the kids out here love roasted seaweed as a snack. I certainly never had that when I was growing up!

    • new to me, too, Andi. Perhaps we could finish our meal with chocolate-covered edamame?

      Roasted seaweed sounds tasty. Anything like kale chips? Except for seaweed-ier? (you can tell I have a college degree in Food Science when I use words like that, haha)

      Hope things go well with your summer. Crazy nuts?

    • wakame isn’t as salty as nori (I don’t think, but am in no way an expert), but especially good in soups, I’d bet. And dips πŸ™‚ Appreciate your kind words. You would really like this, I think. Thanks for coming by, Seana!

    • lol, your life wasn’t long enough if you hadn’t heard about wakame. Ha, I only had heard of it before as I immerse myself in reading about food, etc. Essentially, it’s just seaweed. Not sure really how it distinguishes itself from other types of seaweed. Appreciate your visits and kind words, Beth πŸ™‚

    • Yes to umami, Shanna! Hope you’re well. Thinking about you πŸ™‚ Agreed that a bit of fish sauce makes a whole lot of foods taste even better.

  4. Liz, what a great idea. I like that there’s fish sauce in it with spinach and garlic as well. Perfect. I also like the idea of a smokey flavor if I could ever find smoked tofu. Very inventive. I will definitely give this a shot!

    • Thanks, Amanda. Sometimes I do well with the pinch-and-dash and this was one of those times. Smoked tofu intrigued me as well. Thinking it’s now on my to-do list next time my husband gets a hankering to smoke something!

    • It also reminded me of pesto–the savory flavor is almost like Parm cheese. Considered adding some nuts (cashews?) to the mixture, but figured there was plenty going on already. Tasted way better than I’d expected (as in, it didn’t taste “healthy”), so I was pleasantly surprised.

  5. I feel so provincial–never even heard of wakame. And I’m still not sure–it’s seaweed? If you say it’s good, I’ll try and believe you but . . . πŸ˜‰

    • I only knew of wakame because I read a lot. It’s one of a handful of edible seaweeds that can be tracked down at health food stores or Asian markets. No idea how they differ from each other. But I liked this dip much more than I’d expected to! Thanks for coming over, Kerry πŸ™‚

    • Thanks, Ada. lol, “interesting” has been used a lot in comments πŸ˜‰ (In Minnesota, “interesting” means something along the lines of “huh, really? I don’t want to insult you by saying I don’t like it, but it really doesn’t look that appealing.”) But it was tasty and I’m enjoying it spread on bread and also as a dip. Thanks for stopping by–especially as I know you’re so busy right now!

    • Your boys need to have a chat with my girls so they’ll start enjoying my nontraditional creations πŸ˜‰ Yes, crostini would be amazing with this spread. Nom.

  6. Wow, sounds nice! I’ve never thought if using seaweed in a dip, but it’s a fantastic idea. Also, great explanation of umame flavour – that one has always confused me a bit!!

    • Whenever I do these Cooking Through the Alphabet posts, I google to find something I don’t think the other bloggers will make. (shhhh–it’s our secret, ok? πŸ˜‰ ) So the dip seemed a safe bet. And it was surprisingly amazingly delicious. Highly recommend. Thanks for coming over πŸ™‚

      Umami is an interesting topic. There’s controversy over whether there even is such a thing, but the basic definition is “savory.”

  7. Omg!!! Wakame? I’ve never heard of it before. Liz you’ve inspired me to go out and buy some so I can make your recipe.
    Thanks for sharing!
    This cooking with the alphabet sounds awesome πŸ™‚
    Take care

    • Thanks, Shamim. I totally owe you an email, don’t I? Let me know if you cook with wakame. If you head over to Papaya’s post (link in my post), she invites others to come on board. Would be fun to have you join πŸ™‚ Though whatever will we do for X?

  8. Awesome Liz!! You are much more creative than me! I did not know what that was and would have probably passed on the task, ha ha, but it looks like you found something delicious and unique to make!

    • Thanks, Lilly Sue. You will never get me to agree that I am more creative than you. Maybe I have a better handle on wakame (for now), but you blow me out of the water with your knowledge of beer and cooking with beer and beer-and-food pairings. But I’d bet there’s no beer that goes with seafood, lol. Though probably something that works with sushi.

      • Ya, definitely something light! Those rice beers and maybe some wheat beers would be delicate enough to compliment seafood recipes. Never say never! lol πŸ™‚ Thanks Liz!

    • lol, thanks J. You would’ve figured it out. Your hubby is a chef for goodness sakes πŸ˜‰ Appreciate your vote of confidence. Thinking you’d love the spread–very savory.

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