Saturday, 5 February 2011

Arame, Broccoli, Carrot and Walnut Salad

Vice makes virtue shine:  T. Fuller, Gnomologia: Adagies and Proverbs, 1732.
I bought a packet of arame seaweed in a health food shop, oh months ago, and it’s been sitting in the cupboard and reminder of good intentions to try something different everytime I reach for a bag of dried pasta. It looks a little scary in its dried form and smells, well, reassuringly I suppose, of the sea. 
I soaked the dried arame in a sieve under running water, then placed the sieve in a deep bowl for 6 minutes to soften.  The shiny strands stuck through the sieve and had to be picked out.  Then I steamed small broccoli florets and carrot matchsticks for just 3-4 minutes.  Meanwhile in the serving bowl, mix the following for a dressing;  25g (1oz) walnuts, lighted toasted and chopped (I toasted in a dry non-stick frying pan), 2 tsp sweet rice vinegar, 1 tbsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp light soya sauce, 3 tbsp apple juice.  Finally, add the arame and vegetables to the dressing, toss and serve. 
By now, there was a distinctly seaweedy smell across the kitchen.  I ate this for lunch with my ‘nosy parkin’ friend (who incidentally should be credited with mixing the dressing).  She assured me that she regularly eats seaweed and that the black slimy arame strands I was churning into the earth vegetables would be fine.  However, there was a silence as we first ate, eyes down and unsure of what beheld us.  After a couple minutes, not sure of myself, I asked tentatively; do you like it?  She replied “it’s growing on me and part of the pleasure is knowing that it’s good for me”.  That beautifully sums it up; there is some indulgence in its mere virtue.  By now the toasted walnuts definitely came through strong with the soya sauce and I was getting into my stride and beginning to enjoy it.  We both reached for seconds ...  but perhaps this was because we hadn’t prepared anything at this stage (though Spiced Parsnip soup did follow).  I ate it again, cold, the following day.  I will finish the packet of arame, but I am a slow convert.

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