Wakame from the pristine waters of the Southern Ocean around the south of New Zealand. With a unique taste that is winning approval from those who use Wakame the most - Japanese people.
Wakame, or Japanese Kelp is the delicious fronds of the sea vegetable, Undaria. Highly valued for its nutritional qualities as well as its flavour.
Forest Gourmet Wakame is harvested from the wild, in the pristine ocean waters of southern New Zealand. Freeze dried.
I had not heard of Wakame until just before this review. What is it you ask? It's an edible seaweed, basically it is a sea vegetable. I love eating nori seaweed sheets (used for sushi rolls) as a snack so I thought, when I figured out what Wakame is, that it would be right up my alley. I was mostly right.
To start, the packaging is resealable which is handy for this sort of product if you do not decide to use it all at once. It is technically single serve but if you eat it just as a snack, or add it to a single serving of soup, it is a lot to eat in one sitting. It also proudly shows that it is a wild product harvesting in New Zealand. Furthermore, the back of the package gives suggestions on potential ways to use it which helped inspire my initially not very creative mind. Some suggestions are to add it to soup, eat it dried as a snack (the easiest option), or add it to salads. The package also says the product has only been blanched, cut, and freeze-dried so it is a pure product.
I initially tried it straight from the package. It tastes exactly what you would expect from a dried natural ocean seaweed. It is saltier than nori sheets, drier, and a bit more tough. I personally like eating nori sheets better, at least as a snack. I then tried it broken into smaller pieces and added to my already warmed up homemade potato and leek soup. This method I prefer much more. The soup's liquid softens up the texture and the natural salt and slight seaweed flavour added a nice texture and taste variation to my soup that I really enjoyed. You can also quickly reconstitute it by placing in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and then draining the excess water, and that is what I did next. Draining away the water also takes a lot of the salt away from the seaweed, leaving it tasting more like spinach and blander. I could see how this method would be a great neutral tasting but healthy addition to pasta or pasta salads, maybe even regular salads if you have other crisp lettuces included.
From my research, it is low in calories but high in nutrients (especially iodine) and some studies show it may help reduce blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol, among other potential benefits. I did not like it plain as a snack, but I really liked it added to soup which is the way I would personally use it the most. Since it is so nutritious, I will also in the future add it in reconstituted form to my salads. Overall, I like this product mainly because Wakame is very healthy. If you like to add new healthy things to your diet and are not too worried about price, I highly recommend it.
It took me a long time to be brave enough to try seaweed I am not a fan of fish or any seafood and found seaweed and kelps to have a very fishy smell so the thought of trying them was rather scary. I braved my first sushi roll using nori seaweed and my whole world changed while I will only eat vegetarian or chicken sushi I now enjoy the flavour of seaweed and have got past the thought of it being fishy. From this new found taste for sushi I soon discovered seaweed salad and it was instant love.
I hadn't heard of wakame seaweed before seeing this listed on the KIWIreviews website so did a quick google search before putting in a request to see how I could use it on discovering it was commonly used in japanese seaweed salads I knew I had to fire that request through so I was very excited to receive this to review. Seaweed salad is super easy to make combining the rehydrated wakame with some thinly sliced cucumber, soy sauce, sesame oil, wine vinegar, ginger and some sesame seeds and chilli flakes stirred through. Now I've discovered I can make this at home it will be something I will certainly buy again.
The wakame is easy to use and being in flakes was perfect for salad, all I had to do was soak the wakame in water to rehydrate it. Once it had soaked the vibrant green came out and resembled fresh seaweed. It has a very strong flavour and a delicate soft texture that melts away in your mouth making it very easy to eat. On reading the packet I found out you can eat this dry straight from the packet which was a different experience again but I really enjoyed it and the way it melts away as it hits the moisture in your mouth. I love the packet is resealable so it is great for storing in the cupboard as though a small packet once soaked in waterit does expand so you can get multiple uses from the packet.
Seaweed is one of those foods that I can never get enough of. When we lived in Ireland, we were able to buy fresh dillisk and carrageen in the markets; I quickly learned how to prepare them. Back in New Zealand, we discovered sushi which is now a firm favourite with most of my family - Mr Nine does not like rice so he is not interested, but everyone else enjoys it. Wakame is similar in taste to the nori that I use for sushi making, but it has a lot more flavour; it is also chunky whereas nori is processed in flat sheets.
It was a mistake to read the printed instructions first. My daughter and I discovered that you could eat the pieces straight from the pack, and they were so delicious that we had to remind each other to stop so we would have some left for dinner! Miss Seven tried them too, and just like us, she declared that she thought they were great. Interestingly, my son-in-law did not especially like the flavour. And Mr Nine refused to so much as try any because of the resemblance to nori!
We had prepared a prawn chowder for dinner: this contained root vegetables, corn kernels, leeks, onions, turmeric and garlic. The chowder was passed through the blender once the potatoes were cooked, and then the raw prawns, some chopped parsley, and half the packet of wakame were added. This mixture was simmered for a few minutes more until the prawns were cooked through. Finally, a dash of cream was added to each bowl, and a further sprinkle of dry wakame added for garnish. My daughter had made some bread to accompany the chowder; we ate this hot, cut into thick slices and lightly buttered.
Three of us loved it. We liked the way the wakame added a salty flavour to the prawns and jazzed up the dish. My son-in-law was the only dissenter; he thought it lacked flavour and should have had a lot more salt added. However, he had not liked the wakame dry either, so his reaction was not unexpected. I went back for seconds; so did my daughter, and even Miss Seven asked for a top-up.
I used the rest of the packet as garnish for pan-friend flounder next day. This time I did not bother to reconstitute it in liquid; I just added it to the bottom of the pan, gave it a quick heat through in the flounder juices, then served it still half crunchy. Using a larger quantity gave it much more appeal. The flavours of the fish and wakame blended into a single tasty delight. I think I should have been guided by the packet when making the chowder as it clearly indicated that the 10g contents constituted a single serve. However, this was just the second time I had used it, so I was learning from the experience - and I was reluctant to use too much in case it overpowered everything else.
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