This column is all about eating the right way—making dishes that are inexpensive, readily available, ecologically friendly, and most of all, delicious. And no column about this kind of eating would be complete without acknowledging the most important organism on the planet—humans. We are over-running the place. Supply is high and demand is low. And, when cooked the right way, we are outta this world.
Everyone knows that humans are not the most important organism on the planet, only the most detrimental to, well, every other organism on the planet. (Not to mention to the planet itself.) The most important organism on the planet is algae. It supplies most of the oxygen in the atmosphere. Without it, none of us mammals would exist.
Included in the category of algae are seaweeds, a plant life that’s basically the definition of cheap, sustainable, and delicious. Of course, we humans have screwed that up too. Many seaweed farms in Asia (the world’s leading supplier of seaweed) dump tons of fertilizers into the ocean. So much that the good done naturally by the seaweed (in addition to adding oxygen, it acts as a filter) is undone many times over. Super job, humans.
But, in the last couple years there has been a great growth of sustainable seaweed farms. In addition, fish farms (also not-so-great for the environment) have been adding seaweeds to their farming practices as a way to help make them more ecologically friendly.
So, let’s encourage this goodness. Buy your seaweed from a reputable source, or from a forager (they’re easier to find at this point—the sustainable farms mostly sell seaweed to industry—i.e.; it’s in your toothpaste). Take a deep breath of ocean-oxygenated air (you lucky, stupid human) and make a seaweed salad.
2 ounces dried mixed seaweeds
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon finely grated peeled ginger
1 teaspoon sugar
1 small garlic clove, finely grated
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Soak seaweed in warm water to cover, 5 minutes. Drain, then press out extra liquid. Cut into 1-inch pieces if necessary.
Whisk together soy, vinegar, oil, ginger, sugar, garlic and salt in a medium bowl. Toss in carrot, cilantro, and reserved seaweed.