If you enjoy Japanese food from time to time, chances are you’ve partaken of a bowl of miso soup. Within this flavorful elixir, you’ll find small pieces of edible kelp known as wakame. This nutritious seaweed is most commonly found in miso soup in Japanese restaurants but has many other culinary uses in Japanese cuisine.
In addition to being a miso soup ingredient, it can be a main component of other healthy and tasty dishes. For example, you can quickly make a salad consisting of cucumber, wake and rice vinegar. Often enjoyed on its own, it also makes a great addition to dishes such as pasta or fish. Mixing wakame, sesame seeds, butter and soy sauce with noodles gives a pasta dish an extra dose of nutrients. Add some canned tuna for even more protein.
Health Benefits of Wakame
The Japanese seaweed isn’t popular simply because of its taste and versatility—packed with nutrients, it boasts a number of health benefits. As much a part of Eastern medicine as it is Japanese cuisine, it can quite possibly be the reason of good health of many in Japan.
Wakame is loaded with protein, calcium, fiber, folate and iron. Subsequently, it helps improve blood flow, lowers the risk of heart disease and helps to lower blood pressure.
Additionally, it is high in magnesium, helping to improve digestion and relieve symptoms of bloating. And then there are also the multitude of important vitamins in wakame; Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K and Vitamin B12. It is an ideal ingredient for vegetarians who may find it hard to get such nutrients in and vitamins in other ingredients.
If you didn’t think that was enough to classify wakame as a superfood, consider this. The Japanese seaweed is high in selenium and iodine, which also helps reduce the risk of various cancers, as well as reduces tumors. In fact, wakame has been the subject of several studies showcasing its effect on breast cancer and other ailments.
As it contains very little fat and almost no calories, it is a good snack for those looking to watch their weight and still gain a variety of nutrients. In fact, wakame contains powerful antioxidants that help promote weight loss. Some of the properties of wakame also help revive skin and hair. Because of this, some beauty products contain it as an ingredient.
Where to Find Wakame
Having been classified as a superfood by health advocates, it is easier to find in many supermarkets in the International aisle, in health food stores and of course Asian groceries. The pieces of wakame will look very small and dark but will expand significantly when softened and rehydrated by water. It is possible to find organic one as well, which is grown in eco-forests of kelp and other edible seaweeds.
Other Culinary Uses for Wakame
In addition to soups, stews, salads and seasonings, you can make wakame smoothies or even just eat it plain as a side dish. With a bit of inspiration and experimentation, you’ll find many recipes that are easy to make. So don’t be shy about trying this and other Japanese seaweeds, and you’ll soon discover a brand new umami food experience.