Aug 18, 2012

Please Pass The Limu

Limu Salad
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The Hawaiian word for seaweed is "limu". Limu was very important to early Hawaiians. More than 70 different kinds were used; eaten fresh, blended with other foods, used as spices, used as medicines, and even used in special religious ceremonies. In the olden times, limu was the third component of a nutritionally balanced diet consisting of fish and poi. While limu primarily supplied variety and interest, they also added significant amounts of vitamins and other mineral elements to the diet. A common part of the traditional Hawaiian diet, limu are still a common ingredient in foods here. Not only are limu sold in supermarkets, but original Hawaiian methods of preparation are still used. Limu are served as vegetables in stews, poke, and salads; as condiments, adding zest to the meals; and are an important source of minerals, and vitamins, including vitamins A, C, B12, and riboflavin. Other uses of limu worldwide include products that are used to thicken and smooth many foods and milk-products, as well as toothpaste, beauty creams, paints, and medical products like bacterial culture plates, time-released pills, and dental impression gels.

Seaweed is an underused sea vegetable here in the U.S. People initially think of it as "slimy", but when prepared well, seaweed is delicious and oh-so-nutritious. The most common seaweed that Americans know about is nori, which is a dehydrated and pressed sheet of dark green seaweed. The Japanese have been eating nori since 701 AD. Today approximately 10 billion sheets of nori are produced and consumed in Japan annually. In the U.S., nori is seen most often in sushi bars wrapped around rice with a delicious slice of raw fish. The other thing about nori is that it is easy to find in our grocery stores, usually in the Asian section. To find out more about types of dried seaweed and kelp, check out this Japanese website:

There are about 500 different species of seaweeds in Hawaii's waters alone, including 300 non-native species. Seaweed grows in tide pools off our rocky coastlines, on reef flats, and in between the branches of coral heads at deeper depths. Some are found as deep as 600 feet, but must live where some sunlight can reach them. Seaweeds are classified into three basic groups, green, brown, and red, based on the color of the pigments they have for photosynthesis. Seaweeds are different from land plants in that they don't need roots to draw water and minerals from the soil. Instead they act like sponges, and soak up all the minerals and trace elements found in sea water. When we consume these ocean vegetables, all the energy-rich nutrients are absorbed by our bodies and are easily integrated into our cells and tissues. Because seaweed and your body's mineral make up is similar, a daily diet of seaweed is the most natural way for us to re-mineralize, replenish any depleted nutrients, and rebalance internally to keep us in good, vibrant health! Give seaweed a chance and make it a part of your diet. Below is a growing collection of nutrition-packed recipes for you and your family to enjoy. In no time, you will be saying, "Please pass the limu."

Crisp Nori Chips
There's a tradition in Japan, Korea and elsewhere of eating nearly plain fried pieces of nori as a snack, a kind of potato chip alternative with almost no calories. 
1 package of nori sheets (found in the Asian section of your grocery store)
sesame seeds
sesame oil

Heat your non-stick skillet over medium heat. For easy application, brush the sesame oil on both sides of the nori sheet then sprinkle lightly with salt and sesame seeds. All it takes is about 15 to 20 seconds each side. Cut to bite-size pieces and it's ready! Another way to prepare this crispy snack is to lightly brush nori sheets with water, sprinkle with salt and sesame seeds, then fold it over on itself and bake for 15 minutes in a low oven. Then brush lightly with sesame oil and serve as an appetizer, or tossed into soups or salads for some crunch. 

Nori Wrapped Asparagus with Smoked Salmon
16 asparagus spears (about 2 bunches), woody ends trimmed
2 nori sheets
16 slices smoked salmon

Cook the asparagus in a large saucepan of boiling water for 2 minutes or until bright green and tender crisp. Refresh under cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain. Use scissors to cut each nori sheet in half to make two rectangles. Cut each rectangle crossways into 4 short strips. Wrap 1 slice of salmon around each asparagus spear, then wrap in a strip of nori, shiny-side up. Place, seam-side down, on a serving platter. Makes 16 wrapped asparagus appetizers.

Seaweed Salsa
3/4 cup ogo, finely chopped (ogo is a variety of seaweed)
1 cup tomato, seeded and diced
1 cup sweet Maui onion, diced
1 green onion, (chopped)
3 ounces mirin
2 ounces lemon juice
2 tablespoons ginger (minced)
3 ounces soy sauce
1 ounce sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes

Mix everything together and chill. Serve with fish. Makes 6 servings.

Limu Salad
Limu salad is easy to make but you will have to find the ingredients. It is a combination of flavors and textures creating a delicious mixed Asian main course or side dish, and is a very common and well-liked potluck salad here in Hawaii.
1 (16 ounce) package of linguini, break in 1/2, cooked according to package directions, drained
6 ounces seasoned taegu (Korean spicy codfish found in Asian markets)
2 Japanese cucumbers, sliced lengthwise, then sliced into thin half circles
16 ounces imitation crab (surimi), pulled apart into strings
8 ounces seasoned Ocean Salad (Ocean Salad is a seaweed salad that is flavored with sesame oil, it can be found in the refrigerated section of many grocery stores or in Asian markets)

You won't need all of this sweet and savory dressing, but it is great to keep in your refrigerator for other salads.
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
2 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted, crushed

thinly sliced green onions at an angle
1 (1.9 ounce) bottle nori furikake (a sesame/nori seasoning found in Asian markets)

In a mixing bowl or jar, mix dressing ingredients, and refrigerate. In another bowl; combine linguine with taegu, cucumbers, crabmeat and ocean salad, refrigerate until ready to serve. when ready to serve, toss salad with dressing, as needed. Garnish with green onion and furikake. Serves 8-10.

Seaweed & Cucumber Salad
1 ounce mixed dried seaweed, such as dulse and sea lettuce
1 small cucumber
3 fluid ounces of mirin (Japanese cooking wine)
3 fluid ounces rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Place the seaweed in a bowl, cover with cold water and leave to stand for 15-20 minutes to soften. Cut the cucumber in half lengthways, then slice it very thinly into half moons. Drain the seaweed and roughly chop any large pieces. Put the chopped seaweed in a bowl with the sliced cucumber. Mix the mirin with the rice wine vinegar and sugar and heat very gently in a small saucepan until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, then add the lemon juice. Pour the dressing over the seaweed and cucumber and toss lightly. Serve in small mounds on individual plates.

Ahi Tuna and Avocado Salad 
with Wasabi Mayonnaise
This is a very simple and delicious salad recipe topped off with nori strips.
1/2 pound ahi tuna
1 ripe avocado
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
wasabi paste to taste
1 sheet of nori, cut into very thin strips about 2" long

Dice the ahi tuna and avocado into 1 inch cubes. Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing and toss everything lightly together. Serve in 4 bowls and top with thinly cut nori strips. Makes 4 servings.

Miso Soup with Tofu and Wakame
In the Kamakura period (1192–1333), miso soups like this one, served with rice and pickled vegetables, became everyday fare in Japan. The most common flavor categories of miso are shiromiso, "white miso" and akamiso, "red miso". Wakame is a dried seaweed and Kombu is dried kelp, all can be found in the Asian section of your grocery store.
1/4 ounce kombu (dried kelp)
1 cup bonito flakes
1/2 ounce wakame (dried seaweed)
2 tablespoon akamiso
4 tablespoon shiromiso
7 ounce firm tofu, drained, rinsed, and cut into 1/4'' cubes
2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced

Wipe kombu with a damp paper towel, then place in a container, add 4 cups water, cover, and refrigerate overnight. Remove and discard kombu. Bring kombu stock to a boil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add bonito flakes, cook for 10 seconds, then remove pot from heat. Let stand for 2 minutes, then strain dashi (stock) through a sieve lined with cheesecloth or coffee filter. Discard bonito flakes. (If you're not using dashi immediately, it may be stored in a covered container in refrigerator for 1 week or in freezer for up to 1 month.) Put wakame in a bowl, cover with cold water, and soak until soft, about 10 minutes. Rinse well to remove salt. Cut away any hard ribs, then slice wakame into 1'' pieces. Pour dashi into a medium saucepan and bring just to a boil over medium-high heat. Whisk in akamiso and shiro-miso until they dissolve, then reduce heat to low. Do not allow soup to return to a boil. Add tofu and simmer for about 1 minute. Just before serving, divide wakame and scallions between 4 soup bowls, then fill each bowl with hot soup. Makes 4 servings.

Surimi Hand Roll
Surimi (imitation crab) is a delicious product, but is actually made of cod fish not crab, which makes the price right. When combined with the other ingredients in this recipe you will be surprised at how good these nori cones are.
12 half cut sheets of roasted nori
4 cups of medium grain rice (sushi rice)
1 Japanese cucumber cut into thin strips
1 avocado cut into thin slices
6 sticks of imitation crab (surimi) pulled apart into strings
4 tablespoons of mayonnaise
spicy chili sauce (I use Chinese 'Sriracha' sauce in moderation)
1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds
1/3 cup sushi vinegar (found at your local grocery store)

Cook rice. Transfer cooked rice into a large bowl and lightly flatten down. Sprinkle sushi vinegar over the rice and mix by cutting into rice and flipping over the rice. Fanning as you mix it helps to evaporate the moisture to give the rice a nice glossy texture. Place half of a sheet of cut nori in palm of hand, shiny side down. Spread sushi rice over the left side of the nori and spread a little mayonnaise, a little chili sauce, and sesame seeds. Top rice with imitation crab and vegetables. Starting at rice covered edge, roll to form a cone. Makes 12 cones.

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