Most people’s first experience of seaweed is sushi. These little bite size morsels are considered ‘fast food’ in Japan. Although they are a delicious way to start appreciating the taste of nori, the seaweed wraps are often over processed and glazed with flavoured salty mixtures to make them shiny and resistant to the ambient moisture, which would make them susceptible to falling apart.
The recipe below won’t result in a sheet that is as crunchy as the traditional sushi wrap, but it is much more resilient and contains far less sodium and other additives. Another advantage is that any seaweed leaf that appeals to you can be used in order to produce wraps of various colours and flavours. The flavour can also be enriched by soaking the seaweed in a liquid of your choice (a juice, herbal tea or stock) and adding herbs, seeds or spices to the mixture.
Ingredients (to make a sheet 35cm x 25cm):
20g dried leafy seaweed of your choice (karengo, wakame, sea lettuce and dulse are tasty options)
1 big egg (optional > separated)
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg or other herb/spice
salt (optional) & pepper to taste
Equipment: 35 x 25 cm Swiss roll tray lined with non-stick baking parchment
Preheat oven to 180°C. Re-hydrate the seaweed by soaking in tepid liquid for 3-5 minutes and squeeze the excess moisture out.
Puree the seaweed, egg yolk, herb/spice, & seasoning to taste in a food processor until smooth.
Separately, whisk egg whites to soft peaks and fold lightly into the seaweed mixture until evenly blended.
Spread the mixture thinly onto the prepared tray. Bake until set, 10-12 minutes.
Turn the baked ‘roulade’ onto a new sheet of baking parchment, delicately peel the paper it was cooked in and roll loosely with the new parchment to retain shape and prevent cracking. Leave to cool.
ADDITIONAL DETAILS & PICTURES HERE:
The recipe is very simple. First choose a seaweed leaf that appeals to you. Note that each seaweed absorbs liquid in a unique manner. Some will become mushy in texture (dulse & karengo, as an example); others may become fleshy (wakame); and others tissue paper-like (sea lettuce). Here’s a rough re-hydration yield gage for each seaweed – for 20g of dried leaves, I get:
Wakame yielded 200g, Sea Lettuce > 133g, Dulse 218g and Karengo 160g. This may vary slightly depending on the dryness of the leaves. Of course, re-hydrating any seaweed in water will unmask its true natural taste, but you can somewhat alter/enrich that flavour by soaking in a tasty liquid of your choice. As an example, I have used some interesting tea-based blends: Wakame in water, Sea Lettuce in Jasmine tea, Dulse in Ginger Lemongrass tea and Karengo in a Vanilla Rose Petal tea! Other liquid options such as juices, stocks or even liqueurs can be used – be creative and share your findings with us!
When the seaweed has re-hydrated (after 3-5 minutes in warm liquid), squeeze out the excess liquid and puree in a blender or food processor with one (approximately size eight) egg. This mixture should fill a medium size baking tray. The purpose of the egg is to bind the mixture together to prevent it falling apart during rolling. It is also important to make sure the puree is quite consistent, otherwise pieces that are too big will separate from the sheet or make it difficult to cut.
When the puree is ready, spread the mixture as thinly as possible on a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking paper without leaving any gaps . It can then be sprinkled with a variety of garnishes: sesame seeds, chia seeds, seaweed flakes (same or different colour) herbs or spices etc… to achieve something that is pleasing to the eye and the taste buds. Place the tray in the middle of the oven and bake until set.
When the baking time is up, take the tray out of the oven and stand for a few minutes; the steam will make it easier to peel the paper away from the wrap. Flip the content of the tray over another baking sheet and gently peel the paper used to cook the wrap. Cool for a few minutes, so most of the steam can escape. Then roll blank in the new baking sheet so the wrap ‘learns’ to bend. Cool completely to room temperature.
Lots of creative ideas can be used for the filling as well, which can enhance the appeal of the dish and complement the taste of a particular seaweed. Rice is the obvious choice. Rice varieties can provide you with quite a range of colours, flavours & nutrients. Other options include cream cheese, pestos, noodles, vegetables leaves or cut matchsticks shape, cooked chicken or fish. The possibilities are endless!
When completely cooled, unroll the wraps and cut into three long strips with a sharp knife or food shears. Fill each piece with your favourite garnish and roll as you would do a sushi roll. Check this link if you need help rolling. When done, wrap each roll in film paper and refrigerate until needed – a cool roll is easier to cut neatly. Fancy sprouts or seaweed seasoning are ideal garnishes.
Furikake, a mixture of five seaweeds from different groups, not only offer a wide range of essential nutrients but also deliver flair & additional flavour to the final product. When ready to serve, cut each roll straight or at an angle to make a healthy and appealing display !
…and share your new combinations with us