Wakame, a species of seaweed, is one of the great raw materials of the future. Humanity will want to survive even if the population number significantly increases. And because the oceans are vast and fertile, we humans will rely on products like wakame more and more. When in Japan I got used to eat wakame very quickly. I liked them and consumed every day. It affected positively my hair quality – in a few years they were stiffer and darker. In Japan people eat up to twenty species of different algae. They are daily on the diet.
The fact that I was used to eating seaweed came in handy when I was on Nelson Island in Antarctica for about two weeks in a survival program. We could eat only what we brought with us in our backpacks. And also what washed out the sea. The animals were safe because humans are not allowed to hunt in Antarctica. There were no trees or shrubs on the island, only lichen. I didn’t go into lichens, but I was not afraid to eat seaweed. I didn’t know all the species that grew there, but I trusted them more than I trust mushrooms. I just picked them up and cooked them. Our crew of seven people chose me as a cook. We all survived in good health. I collected what was there on the sea shore. I hung long strips of kombu-type seaweed around my neck and triumphantly returned to our field kitchen. I cooked řasňačka soup, seaweed soup with Shriracha and it tasted like a cabbage sour soup. Or I made goulash, of course it was goulash from algae. The sea washed away hard dark red algae and I decided they may be good for goulash. They were like hollow thick wires. I had to cook them for a long time and when I tasted them well, they reliably replaced the meat goulash. As a true Japanese gourmet, I brought soy sauce, rice vinegar and wasabi to Nelson. I made a great leaf salad from a type of light green fine algae that didn’t even need to be cooked. I peeled them like a precious gingerbread from the rocks washed by the ocean. I was excited. Every day was a gastronomic adventure for me!
After returning to the Czech Republic, I wanted to open another restaurant next to Miyabi. We would only cook food from seaweed there. But my friends quickly told me that it is crazy and that time for such a project is not right yet. And that long time may past till the Czechs will get used to eat seaweed as a daily diet. I confirm here that it is possible to get used to seaweed. And not only to get used to, seaweed become a delicacy! I wonder when the first restaurant will be open selling only seaweed dishes. I’m passing on the idea.
What kinds of foods can be made from seaweeds?
I was at Nelson in 2011 and since then seaweed education has advanced a lot. Some people eat them on purpose, simply because seaweeds are healthy, and others because they simply love them. Seaweeds need to be tried! If you want to join the seaweed admirers, you may start in Miyabi. Right now we have an original sushi uramaki roll on offer, which we call Coral Reef. It contains four types of algae. To start with you can order in Miyabi our tasty wakame salad with tahini sesame dressing. This dish his suitable for take away. Wakame bomb! And of course you can find wakame in our misoshiru soup. Wakame is also very tasty in ramen soup, especially in curry ramen, which is right now on the special Miyabi offer. It is also possible to make non-traditional dishes from wakame, such as my favorite pesto. Use wakame instead of basil. Cook them and mix them into a fine paste, add lemon and even some whipped cream. This pesto is wonderful for white fish made on grill.
But wakame are not the only algae that rotates in Miyabi. Every day we use a pile of nori seaweed for sushi. Almost all makizushi need a piece of nori paper for their wrapping. Another seaweed in our repertoire are hijiki – they are black worm-shaped algae. Some Miyabi guests come especially to order this hijiki dish. I do not know other restaurant in Prague offering hijiki. In Miyabi you can also try kanten algae in the form of quince jelly with yuzu. The list of different types of seaweed is complete only with the one most important for Japanese gastronomy. It is kombu. It forms the basis of dashi broth and dashi is added to almost all Japanese dishes. That’s why every day in Miyabi we prepare plenty of good broth from kombu seaweed – the strong and hard seaweed which was most frequent on the coast of Nelson Island. To safe the waste we do not throw away kombu sheets after we get dashi from them, but we cook them soft and then dry and grinde to small pieces. It forms the basis of a sprinkling mix, which is called furikake. It is sprinkled on rice. There is one more dish I love – tuna fish wrapped in kombu sheet and long cooked in soy sauce and dashi. The umami taste makes a mirracle here. This dish his called kombumaki. It’s a festive meal that will be in the Miyabi New Year’s box offer. In Japan, they even make candy from kombu, wakame and other algae. Imagine how many vitamins and minerals you can get from such candies. They are great!
Why are seaweeds healthy?
Because they contain iodine and Omega 3. And also important vitamin B3 and a large amount of minerals – calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium. They have ten to twenty times more minerals than plants growing from the soil. In addition, they are very rich in fiber, which we eat less and less in our modern diet. Seaweeds are rightly ranked among the most important superfoods. I am convinced that I owe thanks to seaweeds because they were what fundamentally improved my health. I came to Japan at the age of twenty-one and had hereditarily high blood pressure and gout. Within a year, I no more watched my health issues. There was no need. It is a known fact that seaweed eliminate the development of chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cardiovascular problems, type II diabetes, digestive diseases, osteoporosis and, last but not least, cancer.
Are you convinced? Let yourself. One Japanese saying is that for aiming for great goals one does not need huge and fancy gates to start. It’s the same with seaweed, just dare, long and try. A little bit by bit. And in all forms. Believe me, in the end, your body will want the seaweed itself.