Thursday, August 02, 2007

Cabbage Salad with Toasted Seaweed

This is a very Japaneasy salad that I made the other night to go with spicy chicken and rice. The idea started with coleslaw but I didn't want that kind of sweet creaminess, I wanted something much further down the salty sour end of the spectrum. I have some nori sheets I bought from a Japanese grocers (though they are readily available in chinese stores and health food shops) and decided that would give an interesting change in flavour to the shredded cabbage.

Nori comes from the genus Porphyra, which contains a variety of species that are commercially grown and harvested. The sea dwelling algae are grown in enclosed nets, which can be easily pulled out of the water for harvesting. Nori is basically seaweed paper. Once harvested it is then flattened by a shredding- and rack-drying process that resembles papermaking. It is high in fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals and, seaweed provides up to ten times more calcium and iron by weight than dairy products.

Nori is the sweetest sea vegetable and when toasted, it turns a bright green and becomes even sweeter. Nori has a front and a back that is easy to see when you take sheets from the pack. The shiny, smooth side is the front. This side should be toasted by dragging the nori quickly over an open flame. What you then have is a thin crisp sheet that is flavoured like the essence of the ocean. Crumbled through this salad it creates an amazing range of flavours in each mouthful. It needs some time to meld with the dressing - in fact next day it was probably better than the first.

Cabbage Salad with Toasted Nori

1/2 Savoy cabbage, very finely shredded
4 spring onions, white parts finely chopped
1 sheet toasted nori

1 tbspn ginger, grated
1 small garlic clove, crushed
1 tbspn rice vinegar
1 tspn honey
2 tbspns japanese soy
1 tbspn olive oil

Mix the cabbage and spring onions in a bowl. Hold the nori sheet with tongs and wave it closely over the flame from the gas ring on your cooker. If you cook electric it should work with a cigarettte lighter or candle, but requires a little more dexterity! When the seaweed is crisp crumble it into flakes over the other vegetables.

Put all the ingredients for the dressing into a jar and shake vigorously. Tip over the salad and mix well. Leave for at least an hour before serving, it is also very good next day.

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