Friday, May 24, 2019

Sugar Kelp Salad

This is a simple sea vegetable salad inspired by the many Japanese restaurants across the US. Usually the greens are an unnatural but pretty neon green due to food coloring. In this recipe I am using fresh organic tender baby sugar kelp from aqua farmer Catherine Puckett based out of Block Island (Rhode Island). Catherine also raises oysters and traps green crabs. You may contact Catherine directly via email or call her at 401-741-2023.

In order to clean the fresh sugar kelp this is my method. I glide each strip of kelp with my fingers to remove any ocean debris. Rinse all of them several times in more cold water. For this salad I cut each into strips about 6-8 inches long, stack the strips on top of each other, roll them up and cut them with either scissors or a knife to create approximately quarter inch thin strips. Next blanch the strands in boiling water for about a minute. For the stems I keep them in the boiling water for 5 minutes to help tenderize them further. After this strain, rinse them in cold water and let them drain in a colander to remove as much of the liquid as possible. 

Recently I met my husband's PhD advisor, Professor Dinesh O. Shah and his family. Dr. Shah is a brilliant, friendly, kind and energetic man in his 80s who still advises doctoral students in India despite being retired from the University of Florida. He tells me his students are like his family. It is not surprising that students, colleagues, and people from his former village in India all revere him. The village where he grew up honored him with a beautiful grand procession and a road dedication named after him! Check out Dr. Dinesh O Shah Road Dedication Ceremony in Kapadwanj, India!

When we visited him and his family we were invited to a special vegan meal! Dr. Shah's son recently switched to vegan from vegetarian and he did it "cold turkey". I am pleased to see that he seems to be adjusting quite well! Most of them are vegan except for one grandson who is vegetarian. What is the difference between a vegan versus a vegetarian? The vegan eaters cannot consume any products from animals/insects such as cheese, milk or honey. Vegetarian eaters can consume these products. In my Teochew culture there are days during the year when some family members eat vegan food but usually only for a day, on certain religious days.

This dish is vegan but feel free to make it non-vegan by adding cooked meat and/or other seafood such as green crab roe/meat, scallops, shrimp, crayfish, lobster, octopus, and squid. You may use various assortment of sea greens if they are available for texture, presentation and taste. I add the red onion slices for color and flavors but you may certainly omit them. This recipe makes 1-2 servings.

sugar kelp salad

Sugar Kelp Salad


2 1/2 oz fresh baby sugar kelp, cut into approximately 1/4 inch x 6 inch strips
A few thin slices of red onion
1 blade of scallion, green parts only, chopped
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp soy
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp ginger, grated (may use juice only if you prefer less ginger flavor)
1 tsp garlic, grated
1 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp crushed sea salt
1 tsp black sesame seeds
1 tsp white sesame seeds


Blanch the cut kelp in boiling water for about a minute, keep the stems in for 5 minutes. Rinse in cold water. Slice the onion thinly and place the slices in cold water for about 10-15 minutes. Squeeze out the water prior to using.

In a bowl mix scallion, oil, soy, vinegar, ginger, garlic and salt until well blended. Add the blanched kelp, onion slices and seeds. Toss everything to mix well. Adjust the seasoning according to your taste.

sugar kelp salad

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