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New Wave Greens

Elizabeth Schneider / July 1997

Sea vegetables are making a big splash on the menus of adventurous culinary navigators. Elizabeth Schneider reports.

Ten years ago, who would have guessed that midnight-purple sheets of shiny seaweed would become a familiar ingredient in American restaurants? But by now, even culinarily cautious diners have nibbled nori-wrapped rice and avocado in a "California roll."

Nori is just beginning, an appetizer in a sea-vegetable repertory of potentially major dimensions. As an example, more than 60 species are enjoyed as food today, according to specialists Seibin and Teruko Arasaki (Vegetables from the Sea, Japan Publications, Tokyo, 1983). And while the Japanese have developed ocean agriculture, foraging, and seaweed recipes to an unusually high degree, other cultures are also partial to sea greens, a group exceptionally nutrient rich, notably in minerals and vitamins.

"In Brittany," recounts Tony Ambrose (chef/owner; Ambrosia on Huntington, Boston), "fresh seaweed was the staff's vegetable du jour at the restaurant I worked in. We'd sauté whatever kind was in and stir in some house vinaigrette at the end, then serve with pheasant rilettes or scrambled eggs," he recalls deamily. "I fell in love with seaweed there and use it in every sauce I make at my restaurant." Hubert Keller (chef/owner, Fleur de Lys, San Francisco), raised in France, was inspired by a traditional Breton recipe to create a crisp nori bread for his American restaurant.

Throughout the British Isles, seaweed has played a traditional role as condiment, vegetable side, soup-smoother, seasoning, and pudding-thickener. In China, kelp is "red-cooked" with chicken in stock, vinegar, sugar, soy, and rice wine. In Korea, ribbons of kelp are knotted, deep fried, and sugared for snacking; wakame tossed with crab, cucumber, vinegar, chile , garlic, sugar, and sesame is standard. In chile, a sturdy stew, charquicán de chochayuyo combines a hefty kelp with New World vegetables—squash, potatoes, and corn (from Three Generations of Chilean Cuisine by Mirtha Umana-Murray, Contemporary Books, Chicago, 1996). And coastal dwellers from Scandinavia to the Philippines, and British Colombia to Vietnam are no strangers to ocean produce.

North Americans encounter sea vegetables daily, but under cover: in ice cream, sausages, candies, nutritional supplements, toothpaste, and much, much more. But straight? For most in the West, sea plants are an acquired taste and texture, difficult to slip into a dinner menu. Although "fusion foods" grow more familiar each day, it is tricky to know how sea vegetables fit, what they go with. (Taste nori straight—without rice, fish, ginger, wasabi—and you'll recognize at once, as it clings cloyingly to your palate, the importance of identifying its complements.)

And how to describe seaweeds? I find myself at sea, snorkeling breathlessly for descriptors beyond "briny" and for comparisons to land vegetables. Like all unfamiliar foods, sea vegetables need longterm kitchen study if we are to discover their special qualities. Fortunately, creative chefs are rising to the challenge and conducting their own in-kitchen experiments. To begin yours, here is a guide to some major edible types—dried, fresh, and fresh-salted.

DRIED SEA VEGETABLES

Nori is a Japanese catchall term for a wide range of seaweeds, most often the purply Porphyra, a red alga that thrives in waters East and West, North and South. In Japan, all Pophyra is farmed, raised on nets in tidal areas. In the United States we use the word "nori" to refer to translucent rectangles pressed from these plants, more accurately asakusanori—a relatively expensive garnish favored by chefs–is not related. (Red, white, or green, tosakanori is actually one seaweed, write the Arasakis, and "only the red is natural. The green has been treated with wood ash...and the white...bleached" to produce the pastel trio.) Green ao nori, another plant entirely, is sold flaked, as seasoning.

To prepare nori, move just one side back and forth over and open flame until it is crisp, shiny, and fragrant. If desired, cut nori with scissors to from strips or fanciful shapes. Store tightly sealed in a cool place or the freezer.

Use toasted nori to add subtle sea seasoning and eye-cathing accents to just about any savory dish, but note that it becomes sticky on contact with moisture: add at the last minute. Roll around filling, form packages, cut ribbons or confetti to scatter on creamy soups, grains, pasta, potatoes, canapés, eggs, salads. Or offer nori "napkins" to hold juicy hors d'oeuvres such as shrimp.

Laver is the English term for the same Porphyra from which asakusa-nori is pressed, but the plants are simply rough-dried, loose. Among the available types are Atlantic, Pacific, and New Zealand. Atlantic laver forms dark, crumpled, slate-purple bands that are chewy, strong, and salty. The best-known traditional dish made from the laver is a dense puree called laverbread, which is spread on toast, served as a vegetable side dish, mixed with stock and bitter orange juice to sauce lamb, or formed into flat cakes, rolled in fine oatmeal, and fried. Pacific laver (also called nori), harvested in Northern California, forms long, cellophane-thin ruffled green-violet strands. A sample from Mendocino tasted mild, barely salty, and fairly fishy. New Zealand laver is called "karengo" by Maoris, for whom it is a primary food. Packaged as "Kiwa Fronds," the laver is tender, tissuey, and tiny. Almost as soft as a fresh vegetable, the salt-sharpened snippets and swirls have a sweet, tealike fragrance and aftertaste.

None of the laver types mentioned above needed cleaning before sampling. Although traditional preparation dictates long soaking and cooking, tasters disliked the results. Baked dried laver however, made for a crackly, salty, thin-crisp garnish. To prepare, bake at 300˚F for five to 10 minutes, until crisp but not darkened, Cool, then use as crumbled nori: over rice, soup, beans, corn, greens, eggs, casseroles, noodles. The New Zealand laver, added to cooked dishes straight from the package, complements grains, mushrooms, green vegetables, light meats, and seafood.

Wakame (Undaria pinnatifida) is the billowy greenery in miso soup, snipped from large undulating fronds harvested primarily around Japan and Korea—and recently, France, New Zealand, and Argentina. Once gathered, they are washed and sun dried. Easy to use, wakame comes in big crepelike bands or "instant" tealeaf-like shreds that quickly rehydrate. The texture has more in common with cooked escarole or other land greens than most sea vegetables.

Prepare sheets by rinsing and soaking briefly. Check for stringy midribs. If present, slice a sample for chewinesss, as some are too tough to cook (the amount of midrib distinguishes lower-grade from higher-grade leaf wakame, I am told). Remove whatever seems unlikely to soften nicely in cooking or marinating.

Alternatively, brush clean the dry sheets, separate into smaller pieces, and bake five to six minutes in a 300˚F oven until crackling crisp.

Used baked wakame garnish to supply color, crunch, and a briny snap. Prepare a seasoning sprinkle by roasting wakame and sesame or pumpkin seeds, then crushing to coarse powder.

Use soaked wakame to envelope fish fillets for steaming or in place of nori to roll "sushi." Traditionally, wakame is stirred into soup, or added to poultry, fish, or bean curd dishes. It marries well with citrus, cucumbers, and vinegar in a light, refreshing salad. I have been told that in Hawaii, virtually every supermarket carries a salad or reconstituted wakame, grated carrots, scallion, and chopped Chinese cabbage seasoned with lemon juice, soy, and sesame seeds.

Dulse, an English name for Palamaria palmata—a red alga, like nori—is also known as dilisk, red kale, and water leaf in some of the cooler-weather countries where it has a culinary foothold.

The thickly crumpled, thin-leaved, ferociously briny oxblood-red plant has distinct personalities, from mild jelly to crackly garnish. Devotees seem to like it best dried "straight up," as in Nova Scotia and Main, where it replaces bar peanuts. Other prefer it soft and buttery, as in the dulse champ of Ireland—potatoes mashed with dulse and butter. Smoke dulse, sweetly porky, is also sold,

Prepare dried dulse by first pulling apart large clumps to check for bits of beach. If you wish to tenderize or desalinate, rinse briefly. Bake dulse in a 300˚F oven for five to eight minutes. It will develop a fine phyllo-crisp crunch, deep burgundy color, intensely salty savor.

Use crisp-baked dulse as "bacon" in a vegetarian DLT: spread horseradish mayonnaise on toast; top with lettuce, onions, sprouts, tomato, and toasted dulse strips. Stir into chowders or potato salad. To thicken soups, stir dulse into the mixture for the final half hour or so of cooking. The dulse dissolves, leaving a sea scent and smooth feel.

Hijiki or Hiziki (Hizikia Fusiformis), a Japanese native, appears often on sushi restaurant menus here, its dark squiggles usually twined with carrot strips in soy and mirin-accented broth. Post-harvest, hijiki is boiled to eliminate bitter tannin-like compounds. Naturally twiggy in shape, it forms stringlike bits once dried.

Prepare hijiki by sloshing it around in a bowl of water, then lifting out gently. Soaked 10 to 20 minutes, the pieces develop a fleshy vegetable texture (without the sliperiness associated with sea greens) and a fresh sea scent. For firm texture and more pronounced flavor, do not soak; simply rinse, the proceed to marinate or cook.

Cook rinsed hijiki by steaming in a dish over boiling water, covered, for about a half hour. Toss occasionally to keep evenly moist. Prepare this way, hijiki is meaty, deeply salty, and pleasantly leathery. For mild flavor and juicy consistency, braise or stir-fry hijiki that has been soake. Or add rinsed, dried hijiki to juicy or soupy dishes and soak or cook until tender.

Use steamed hijiki sparingly, as an accent, in the way you would olives or anchovies. Cooked soaked hijiki with grain dishes or sauté and add to cooked couscous or pasta. Stir-fry soaked hijiki with sweet and/or crisp vegetables such as carrot, jicama, lotus, hard squash, sweet potatoes, and cucumber. Or combine soft-cooked hijiki with sesame oil, sautéed onions, roasted red pepper, garlic, ginger juice, and lemon juice, then chop to make a coarse pâté/spread.

Arame, a Japanese name commonly applied to Eisenia species, grows in pockets of the Western hemisphere as well as in Japan. Like hijiki, its tough fronds are cooked before drying, but unlike hijiki, which separates into threads of its own accord, arame is sliced before drying. Cooked, the very fine strands are tender, green-brown, with less defined character but more sea smell than hijiki.

Prepare by soaking in plenty of water 15 to 30 minutes, then drain. Nearly every source consulted described arame as sweet, but the four brands sampled were extremely bitter unless soaked.

Cook soaked, drained arame in stir-fries or braises or add to soup.

Use cooked arame in concert with crunchy bright-colored vegetables in casseroles or stir-fries. Or toss with couscous, cracked wheat, and toasted nuts or sunflower seeds. Prepare in appetizer pastries, such as phyllo twists or turnovers. Add to stuffings for poultry.

Kombu or Konbu/Kelp is a Japanese word applied to many plants within the genus Laminaria of the vast kelp clan. Flat or ruffled, the wide verdant vands are the basis of the ubiquitous sea stock dashi, which often takes the place of beef of chicken bouillon in Japan.

Kombu lends body to clear broths and produces the natural taste-enhancer monosodium glutamate. Traditionally, kombu strips are cooked with beans to speed the cooking process and render legumes more digestible (however, in two informal tests, chickpeas and black beans did not cook more quickly when kombu was added). Kombu is also deep fried, braided for use in elaborate dishes, wrapped around rice, made into pickles, and otherwise appreciated and admired in numerous edible forms in Japan and Korea, where it is perhaps paramount among sea vegetables. This is not likely to be the case in the West, where slipperiness and monosodium glutamate continue to be viewed with suspicion.

To explore nontraditional possibilities I steamed, soaked, and baked kombu in several forms, but found none with potential for Western kitchens. Some may prefer Atlantic kelp, thinner and more tender than Japanese, which incorporates easily into soups, braises, and pickled salads. Vinegar-pickled kelp rings and strips are commercially available.

Alaria is both the scientific and marketing name for this type of kelp. In its watery habitat, it's a large plant swirled like a giant rooster's tail feather; dried, it resembles charcoal-green crepe paper. Gathered on both coasts of the United States, it's also described as Pacific or Atlantic wakame—with which it can compare, although it is firmer and chewier.

Dr. Isabella Abbot, phycologist and professor of botany at the University of Hawaii, explains that alaria excels in cooked dishes such as vegetable stews because "all kelps have a natural MSG, but alaria has a pronounced MSG flavor because it also has just the right amount of natural sugars...that bring bring out the flavors of each individual veggie. Even people who don't like veggies will eat this."

Prepare alaria by rinsing, the soaking briefly or steaming. Once softened, open up the folds to determine if there is a central rib. Pacific alaria, broad and crushed with bloom, can be soft as a sheet of lasagna and rib-free. If ribs are visible, snip a sample with a scissor and taste: some are bouncy edible and simply need a little extra cooking; some are plain tough. For soft, bland alaria, soak longer—30 minutes or more.

Cook alaria in a dish over boiling water, covered, for 30 minutes or more, turning now and then to moisten evenly, until tender and toothsome (some may be too thin or dry to tenderize). Nicely chewy, it has a mellow, sun-dried flavor.

Or break apart strips of dried alaria, brush clean, then bake in a 300˚F oven five to eight minutes. Crisp and meaty, the fronds taste browned and wood-smoky, richly bacony.

Use steamed or soaked alaria, dressed or plain, as part of a fresh relish or salsa or in seafood salad. Contrast with crunchy ingredients such as cucumber, sweet pepper, celery, and carrot. Stir briefly soaked thin strips into soup for the final 15 minutes of cooking. Or toss steamed, chopped alaria into cooked grains: brown rice, quinoa, bulghur, kamut. Use baked alaria as bacon bits.

Sea Palm (Postelsia palmaeformis), native to the coast of North America, resembles a miniature palm tree in its ocean home. The dried noodlelike "fronds" are deep olive-green, smoothly grooved longitudinally. Firm and bouncy, they look like a cross between plastic beach grass and spinach fettucine. A fairly new product, commercially speaking, sea palm—mild, slightly crunchy, nonsticky, curiously woodsy—would seem to be a likely subject for Western palates.

Prepare by rinsing. Soak or marinate for raw preparations.

Cook by adding to dishes that will be cooked. Alternatively, for a more defined flavor, steam dried, rinsed sea palm in a dish, covered, for a half hour.

Use sea palm in mixed vegetable sautés or braises. Or add to stews, soups, or casseroles. It holds up well to heat and absorbs cooking juices, adding a surprising smokiness and depth. Or add steamed sea palm strands to mixed vegetable and seafood salads.

Please note: because sea palm is marketed commercially, I have included it here, but Dr. Abbott and other phycologists warn that resources are extremely limited and believe it should not be harvested. They explain that because of its need for strong water movement, the plant cannot be cultured like other sea vegetables.

FRESH SEA VEGETABLES

"Sea Parsley" is the trademarked name for a form of miniature dulse discovered in the Bay of Fundy, and now cultivated in saltwater tanks in greenhouses in Nova Scotia. The mosslike burgundy poufs appear to be catching on with chefs, thanks in large part to the extremely useful and original literature that accompanies the product.

In fact, the methods outlined in the brochures could well be applied to the study of any unfamiliar vegetable you come across. In addition to well-tested advice on use, handling, and cooking techniques, recipes are geared to professional use. I can advise nothing better than sending for the information and doing your own tests to see if Sea Parsley belongs in your kitchen. As preview: fresh out of the bag, wine-dark Sea Parsley does, in fact, taste of the sea, and parsley (but chewier and granular); microwaved, it turns crisp, and tastes of mussels and nori; poached, it becomes evergreen and produces a deep pink broth that tastes uncannily like shellfish.

Ogo Nori/Limu Manauea are Japanese and Hawaiian terms, respectively for certain specie of Gracilaria enjoyed throughout Hawaii. Although closely related plants are appreciated in many parts of Southeast Asia, it's from Hawaii that the American mainland receives the product and its culinary connections.

"The Hawaiians had names for ever 80 seaweeds," writes Rachel Laudan in The Food of Paradise (University of Hawai'i Press, Honolulu, 1996), noting that although the number of species has declined, enthusiasm for eating seaweed has not. It "continues to be used for every stage of the meal...one of the foods that serves as a common bridge between Hawaii's ethnic groups," she writes. Ogo/limu, the most popular, is now farmed rather than gathered from the wild. It is served most often in raw seafood dishes—notably traditional salmon poke (pronounced PO kay)—and in kim chee-type pickles.

At Royal Hawaiian Sea Farms, the source of our samples, ogo nori is represented by domesticated variations of wild strains simply named: long red, long green, long brown, thick brown, red, and garnish red, as well as "sea sprouts,"a name also used by other companies.

For minimal sampling, here is what emerges about ogo: it forms graceful swirls or pretty branched shapes tinted mauve, brown, or grassy green that have juicy, crisp, texture and flavor more earthy than other sea greens—sometimes almost mushroomlike.

Prepare ogo by leaving it alone: do not rinse it (or other fresh seaweeds) in fresh water before storing. For maximum shelf life (five days), keep from direct heat and sunlight. Refrigerate long brown and long green ogo only. Others are best kept at 50˚F to 70˚F in loosely tied bags, drained and fluffed daily. Jasper White, executive chef/director of food operations for Legal Sea Foods in Boston, keeps this huge supply in his tanks. (He mentions that a menu note on the origin and cultural significance of ogo much intrigued customers.)

Use ogo/limu raw, for the most part, as or in vegetable and seafood salads. If it begins to discolor, blanch and pickle; or mix into salsa. Or add, chopped, to sauces at the last minute. Or steam with fish and chopped vegetables en papillote.

SALTED FRESH SEA VEGETABLES

Some half-dozen colorful types of fresh seaweed interlaced with coarse salt crystals are a specialty of Brittany. While the salt compacts the plants, it prolongs shelf life by weeks. All salted plants must be well rinsed to remove bits of sea life, then soaked 15 minutes in water to desalinate. The following were sampled:

Haricots de Mer or Sea Haricots (Himanthalia elongata) look like spinach linguine and are thoroughly distinct form any sea greens tasted heretofore. Dark olive, meaty, dense, they can be cooked in much the same way as fresh pole beans: blanch and sauté with lima, tomato, and onions; braise with aromatics and shellfish; blanch, chill, and add to composed salads; warm in a cream sauce; add to chowders; or play with their noodlelike aspect and serve with steamed clams with white wine and garlic, linguine style. [Note that sea haricots (beans) are not related to another plant known variously as sea bean, glasswort, poussepierre, poussepie, salicornia, which is not a seaweed but grows on land near salt marshes and bays.]

Sea Lettuce (Ulva lactuca) grows in wide, light green undulating leafy fronds, softly leaf-lettuce shaped. Mild and bright yellow green, it is enjoyed by numerous coastal cultures. Sea lettuce lends itself well to packaging small hor d'oevres, or wrapping fish fillets or oysters for steaming; use to line timbales or ring molds for shellfish mousse. Add blanched sea lettuce to a mix of salad greens; sauté in butter as light green vegetable; sauté in butter as light green vegetable with dill and chives, or serve with beurre blanc.

Kelp/Kombu, shamrock-green bands of satiny rubber, seem almost as difficult to interpret as the dried kelp, but are prettier and easier to handle. In addition, the flavor is fresh and herbal. The big surprise is the luscious sauce potential: barely rinse the salted kelp and puree at high speed with a little water (some scallion and dill do nicely, as well). Press through a fine sieve to yield a slick emerald liquid that lends itself to vinaigrettes , seasoning sauces (try green sauce with pickles, herbs, and capers), and probably warm emulsions for fish or veal. Finest julienne of the fresh kelp, bathed in aromatic vinegar, adds a mysterious flavor, and unusual texture, to potatoes, beans, and gain salads.

BRAVE NEW WAVES OF GREEN

Appetizers
Steamed oysters with sea lettuce (Stephanie's Menu's for Food Lovers by Stephanie Alexander, Methuen Haynes, North Ryde, Australia, 1986): Half-open oysters by releasing muscle with knife. Set on salt bed to prevent tipping. Place a few clusters rinsed sea lettuce in each individual bamboo steaming basket. Top with oysters. For sauce, whisk two ounces butter per person into a little boiling water; add lemon. Steam oysters until plump. Serve butter sauce on the side.

Curried oysters on seaweed salad (Jonathon Eismann, chef/owner, Pacific Time, Miami): Rinse hijiki; rehydrate in aged vinegar and lime juice. Rinse salt-packed fresh dulse; toss with olive oil. Rehydrate wakame; season with sesame oil, sesame seeds, garlic, and rice vinegar. Dust shucked oysters with roasted curry powder and flour. Sauté in peanut oil. Set on their shells (dotted with chile puree) with brunoise of cucumber dressed with honey, salt, and rice vinegar. Top with salmon eggs. Cover plate with seaweed salads; top with oysters. Garnish with strips of pickled burdock and daikon bâtonnets, tips dipped in raspberry vinegar.

Fava beans with sea greens (Good Food from a Japanese Temple by Soei Yoneda, Kodansha International, Tokyo, New York, and San Francisco, 1982): In saucepan combine boiled and shelled fava beans with rehydrated wakame cut into small pieces. Add water, sake, salt, sugar, and a little soy; simmer to blend flavors. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Soups
Mussel, dillisk & rice broth (Gerry Galvin, Chef, Drimcong, House, Moycullen, Galway, Ireland): Wash and shred one ounce dried dillisk (dulse). Cook 48 large mussels with one glass each of white wine and water. Remove shells. Heat stock and strain; add six ounces cooked risotto and dillisk. When boiling, add mussels. Stir in chopped sweet cicely or dill. Spoon into bowls and top with a little Parmesan.

Steamed clams in seaweed wasabi broth with key lime (Jonathan Eismann): For dashi, combine kombu, bonito flakes, and water; keep below a simmer for an hour; strain. Add wasabi powder and plenty of snipped wakame; bring to a simmer. Leave undisturbed to settle for an hour or so. Ladle clear green broth into nonreactive container. Steam whitewater clams ("like littlenecks"); set in broth. Garnish with beni shoga (salt-pickled ginger) and Key lime suprêmes.

Mussel & leek chowder ( An American Taste of Japan by Elizabeth Andoh, William Morrow, NY, 1985): Combine mussels and kombu (about 20 square inches for a dozen mussels. Strain broth and season with soy sauce and rice wie, adding stock as needed. Heat broth with chopped leek to wilt. Add mussels. Dissolve light miso in a little stock; stir into the soup. Garnish with flatleaf parsley.

Salads and Sides
Hijiki, mixed vegetable & egg salad (New Salads by Shinko Shimizu, Kodansha International, Tokyo, New York, and San Francisco 1991): Blanch hijiki; drain. Shock; drain again. Prepare crêpe from beaten egg, salt, brown sugar, sake; julienne. Remove stems and strings from snow peas and rub with a little salt; blanch. Drain and cool with a fan; julienne. Blend rice vinegar, light soy, and dashi; toss with vegetables and egg. Top with coarsely ground toasted sesame seeds.

Kelp salad with wasabi dressing (Tony Ambrose): Finely julienne fresh kelp. Toss with vinaigrette of rice vinegar, soy, honey, sesame seeds and oil. Whiz together in blender wasabi, water, salt, and canola oil. Drip over kelp.

Ogo pickle (Sam Choy, chef/owner, Sam Choy's restaurants Honolulu, Kona, and Tokyo): In large har combine six pounds chopped ogo, two julienned Maui onions, one sliced Oriental radish, 1 1/2 cups sugar, one cup soy, one cup rice vinegar, 1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds, one tablespoon grated ginger, and red pepper flakes to taste. Chill four to five days, inverting jar several times.

Main Courses
Main scallops with crisp dulse/vegetable cakes (Tony Ambrose): Soak dried dulse in champagne vinegar (dulse becomes mushy and acts as light binding). Sweet diced parsnip and fennel; sprinkle with fennel seed and roasted garlic. Chop dulse and fold in. Stew until fairly soft. Line a ring sleeve mold with damp rice paper and fill with vegetable mixture; fold over paper to seal. Sauté until crisp. Serve with seared scallops and stir-fried julienne of Chinese cabbage, cilantro and red pepper.

Papillote of kumu with basil, ogo & shiitake (George Mavrothalassitis from Great Chefs of Hawaii by Kaui Philotts, Great Chefs Publishing, New Orleans, 1996): Sauté stemmed, sliced shiitake in olive oil to brown lightly. Sauté thinly sliced Maui onions in olive oil. Prepare parchment packets dividing onions, fillets of kumu (a type of goatfish) or red snapper, shiitake, ogo, basil, white wine, fish stock, salt, and pepper. Seal tightly. Place in dry skillet over high heat to puff; Bake in high oven for eight minutes. Serve at the table.

Tuna with sea parsley sauce (Louis Charest, executive chef, Canadian Consulate, NYC): Coat sides and top with minced Sea Parsley and scallion in olive oil; deglaze pan with lime juice, water, an a dash of soy. Serve with fried buckwheat noodle cakes.

Garnishes and Touches
Cellophane noodle, fennel & nori explosion (Good Food from a Japanese Temple ): Combine fennel fronds cut into one-inch pieces with cellophane noodles cut the same size and toasted, crumbled nori. Drop a handful at a time into hot fat; turn, drain, and season.

Tempura-style ogo garnish (Sam Choy): Dust ogo clusters with cornstarch and rice flour; dip into light beer batter. Deep fry and serve with crusted fish.

Nori/sorrel topping (Romy Dorotan, chef/owner, Cendrillon, NYC): Sprinkle toasted nori strips with equal amount sorrel chiffonade over grilled fish.

Ogo garnish (Jasper White): Drop ogo into boiling water; pull out at once. Put into brine with sugar, ginger, and garlic. Chill. ("If you see seaweed beginning to change color, do this at once and it will preserve the taste and color.")

Pink butter sauce (Louis Charest): Chop lots of Sea Parsley; add to pot of cold water.Bring to a boil ("It will turn burgundy and taste like the sea"). Strain; use for beurre "blanc"—which is rose.