Monday, September 1, 2008
Stir Fried Seaweed (Hai Cai)
I know many people are not familiar with seaweeds. So I am featuring seaweeds today for the Weekend Herb Blogging community. It may not look pretty to you, but please consider this marine plant food because they are highly nutritious, with power-packed protein, minerals, iron and calcium-rich. For the Asians, it is considered a perfect food, fat-free and no cholesterol. Maybe perfect too, for those on the South Beach Diet.
Actually, this marine plant should not have been called a seaweed. Because it is not a weed at all! It is a very useful plant that helps sustain the marine life and ecology. Like the phytoplanktons, our seas and oceans will be barren without them. They are considered to belong to the plant family because they also do photosynthesis - they use the sun's energy to produce carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and water. Because they need light to survive, seaweeds are found only in the relatively shallow parts of the oceans, which means around the shores. Making it very easy to harvest them.
Three groups of seaweeds are recognised, according to their pigments that absorb light of particular wavelengths and give them their characteristic colours of green, brown or red. Many people are familiar with the red seaweed because of the Nori, used for the Japanese sushi. Yup, despite the color, nori came from the red seaweed. Wakame and Konbu, often used in Japanese soups, comes from the brown seaweed - the most expensive of all seaweeds. And now, presenting the green seaweed (Hai Cai)... the cheapest seaweed of them all :) (but still has all the nutrition comparable to the other more expensive seaweeds)...
It does not look green! It looks ugly! Actually, we always get our seaweed in this dried form. Look out for this product in your Asian groceries and delis. In this form, it keeps for a long period of time in your pantry. When ready to cook, you have to soak them in water, after a few hours, they will expand, turn green, looking like this:
Just drain the water and it is ready to cook. It is very easy to cook Seaweed. All you need is lots of fresh ginger.
1 pack (200 gms) dried seaweed, soaked, rehydrated, drained, cut to bite size pieces
5 T canola oil
5 slices ginger
5 T minced garlic
2 T soy sauce (or according to taste)
1 to 2 pcs bird's eye chillies (siling labuyo), or according to taste
3 T adobo broth, (or minced pork or shrimp for additional flavor), optional
1. Heat up the oil in a wok or a skillet. Saute ginger until golden brown. Add in the minced garlic. Stir fry until fragrant but not burnt.
2. Add in the drained seaweed. Stir fry for a while, 2 to 3 minutes. Add in all the seasonings, adjust according to taste (degree of saltiness and spiciness.) Serve with a steaming bowl of rice.
I often use leftover sauces from soy based stew (adobo) to flavor this seaweed. but it can already stand alone without this additional flavor. It is very yummy, very healthy. The texture is soft yet crunchy. Similar to Nori, (if you have tasted it), its flavor is delicate, not overpowering, it is not fishy at all, it tastes like the clean sea.
Sharing this easy, healthy dish to the Weekend Herb Blogging, a foodie event that features herbs and unique plant ingredients around the world and the dishes we make with these special ingredients. Weekend Herb Blogging was created by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen. This week, the event is hosted by Ulrike from Kuchenlatein. To see last week's interesting dishes, please check out Katie's Thyme for Cooking.