Still riding high on the excitement of The Real Food Festival, I wanted to use some of my new ingredients pronto. I’ve mentioned my current fascination with sea vegetables and was very keen to try this ‘lettuce’ which seems very versatile, according to the woman who sold it (and the packet….). It can be fried, soaked and eaten raw or crumbled and then dampened as a condiment. It can also be used as a replacement for nori when making sushi – it needs baking first which apparently enhances the flavour.
I like the way it has been re-branded as ‘sea lettuce’ – most likely for fear that people won’t want to eat it if they tell it like it is. It’s seaweed people! I’m going to go crazy and just call it ‘weed’ – that could really put you off. The weed swells to 10 times it’s original size when soaked so you need only 5 grams per serving. Afterwards, be sure to give it a good rinse.
I picked up some meaty prawns, perfect for sprinkling with my new Japanese seasoning, Shichimi Togarashi. This is apparently used in the same way as salt and pepper, sprinkled over at the end of cooking. I bought mine from Season and Spice. It’s fairly hot but fresh with orange and sesame. So many ideas come to mind for using this seasoning, it’s going to be perfect for the barbecue (ahem, summer?) and I have the feeling I will be sprinkling it on eggs very soon. The noodles are buckwheat – our current favourites, they have such a toothsome bite, and just the right amount of nuttiness. I stirred some crisp spring onions through the noodles, along with coriander and then the usual suspects: rice wine vinegar, soy, and a sprinkling of sesame seeds and oil.
The seaweed was interesting, but I need to experiment more. Under-hydrated, it is chewy and unpleasant. When raw – it is still fairly strong but tasty and with potential. I think that warmed, it was nice but seemed to mellow in flavour and so the recipe could take more. I can’t wait to fry it. It has a flavour not unlike that of shellfish and with that distinctive ‘green’, slightly salty flavour. When soaked, it rejuvenates to its original state which is like the kind of seaweed you find in rock pools. You could of course substitute other types of seaweed here if you cannot find the Atlantic ‘lettuce’ kind.
Finally, I am honoured to receive an ‘E for Excellent’ award from Nina at Nina’s Kitchen. Thank you very much for the award and for your lovely comments about my blog (click on logo in the sidebar to read). I can pass along the award to anyone I feel deserves it so I’m going to do exactly that and pass it to Tami at Running With Tweezers. I enjoy her clear writing and food-world insider titbits.
Shichimi Togarashi & Sea Lettuce Noodles
8 large prawns, de-shelled and de-veined. To do this, twist the head off each prawn, then prise the shell and legs away. To de-vein, place the prawn on it’s back and run a sharp knife down the centre to remove the blue-black vein
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small knob ginger, grated
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons flavourless oil, such as groundnut
Shichimi Togarashi to serve
- Put all the ingredients except the Shichimi in a bowl and leave to marinate for 20 minutes. Grill for 1-2 minutes each side (depending on size) and serve garnished with Shichimi Togarashi.
Sea Lettuce Noodles
6 spring onions, finely sliced lengthways
10 grams ‘sea lettuce’ – re-hydrated for 5 minutes in water and finely shredded
1/2 red chilli, de-seeded and finely sliced
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 small bunch coriander, roughly chopped
2 bundles buckwheat noodles (or an alternative such as rice vermicelli)
- Put the spring onions in a bowl of ice cold water. This will help them crisp and curl.
- Cook the noodles as per instructions, then drain and refresh under cold water.
- Add the rice vinegar, soy, sesame oil, seeds, chilli and the weed to a large saucepan. Heat very gently. Add the drained noodles and stir to combine until everything is warmed through and coated.
- Stir through the coriander and spring onions.