The health benefits of Wakame seaweed / Wakame (and mekabu) recipes

Boiled Wakame

Boiled Wakame

Wakame, according to MindBodyGreen is:

“is an edible brown seaweed or kelp common in Japanese, Korean, and Chinese cuisines.” According to the same source, wakame is…

“a good source of the following:

1. Magnesium. This mineral is critical in the contraction and relaxation of muscles, function of certain enzymes in the body, production and transport of energy, and the production of protein.
2. Iodine. Iodine is needed for strong metabolism of cells – the process of converting food into energy. It also maintains the balance of the thyroid gland and is needed for the production of thyroid hormones.
3. Calcium. Wakame easily allows for the absorption of calcium into the human body. Each 100 grams of raw wakame contains 150 milligrams of calcium. Calcium is needed for strong healthy bones and the prevention of osteoporosis.
4. Iron. We need iron because it is essential for the production of red blood cells and the prevention of anemia.
5. Vitamins!
  • Vitamins A, C, E, and K. These vitamins are all amazing for skin health and repair as well as immunology.
  • Vitamin D. Promotes the absorption of calcium for healthy bones and enhances the nerve, muscle, and immune systems.
  • Riboflavin (Vitamin B2). We need riboflavin to use the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in the foods we eat. Riboflavin helps us use these nutrients for energy in our bodies for growth and is also necessary for red blood cell production. Riboflavin functions as an antioxidant and works in the body with other vitamins such as niacin, folate, and vitaminB6. 
6. Folate. Helps the body make new cells and is especially important for pregnant women.
7. Lignans. Thought to play a role in preventing certain types of cancer, particularly breast cancer.

Nutritionist Gillian McKeith, PhD, author of the You Are What You Eat Cookbook, calls wakame the woman’s seaweed because it is loaded with osteoporosis-preventing calcium and magnesium and acts as a diuretic (which helps reduce bloating). Wakame’s pigment, fucoxanthin, is known to improve insulin resistance, and a 2010 animal study found that fucoxanthin burns fatty tissue. —

Today’s NHK Asaichi programme looked at the ways in which Iwate people eat wakame, given that Iwate Prefecture i the no. 1 largest producer of wakame, we could thought to take a few notes here.  We learned that:

  • Wakame improves the taste of and makes boiled rice delicious, hence, making rice-balls with wakame enhances their taste considerably.
  • Secondly, fresh wakame doesn’t keep more than a week, however, an easy way to store wakame, is to add mentsuyu, wakame soaked in mentsuyu will keep for about a month. The wakame is surrounded by calcium minerals, which helps keep the wakame in prime condition.
  • 3rdly, wakame and mekabu have health benefits for preventing or ameliorating stroke symptoms.
  • Animal research (published 2003) conducted at Mukogawa Women’s University, Japan, showed that, despite being fed a high-salt diet, rats that were fed wakame had increased resistance to stroke and higher survival rate after stroke than animals in the control group. Researchers found a carotenoid compound called fucoxanthin to have protective brain effect and to contribute to the stroke or cerebral thrombosis prevention or resistance effect. Other research showed health effects of mekabu diet for high blood pressure  in a 1999 study on rats as well as for reducing systolic blood pressure in humans in a 7 week 2002 study.  Other research show benefits for cancer patients and especially reducing mammary tumors. — Better Nutrition, May 2004

わかめごはん(4~5人分) Wakame Rice (Serves 4-5 people)

・米・・・2合 2 Cups rice
・わかめ・・・50グラム 50g wakame
・しらす(乾燥)・・・30グラム 30 g shirasu whitebait/anchovy

・水・・・2分の1カップ  1/2 C. rice
・薄口しょうゆ・・・大さじ2 Tsp light soy sauce
・みりん・・・大さじ2 Tsp mirin
・砂糖・・・小さじ3と3分の1 1/3 sugar
・酒・・・少々 A little sake wine

<作り方> How to(method):

  1. ごはんを炊き、わかめは塩抜きして水気をよくきって細かく刻んでおく。   Cooked rice. Use unsalted drained Wakame , mince finely
  2. (A)の調味料を全て鍋にいれ、ひと煮立ちさせる。Add all the seasonings of (A) to a pan and bring to a boil.
  3. (2)に、しらすをいれ味を染み込ませたら、わかめを入れてさっと(20秒程度)混ぜる。Add shirasu to 2) till taste penetrates through, then add wakame seaweed and mix  quickly (about 20 seconds).
  4. わかめは煮込まず、すぐに火をとめ、炊けたご飯に混ぜれば完成。Wakame does not do well when boiled, so stop fire of the pan quickly, and add wakame mixture with the boiled rice, mix and serve.


生わかめ保存法 The way to store Wakame


・生わかめ・・・100グラム 100 g fresh raw wakame
・めんつゆ・・・大さじ1と3分の1 1/3 TB mentsuyu sauce
・みりん・・・小さじ1 1  tsp
・酒・・・小さじ1 1 tsp sake wine
・刻みしょうが・・・5グラム 5 g myoga ginger
・一味とうがらし・・・適量 Dash of chilli

<作り方> Method

  1. 生わかめは湯通しし、水でもみ洗いしながら冷ました後、ザルにあけて水分を切っておく。Run hot water over the raw seaweed, then wash over with cold water to clean the wakame and drain well in a sieve.
    Raw wakame ※最後に、水分を絞るようにしてきるとよりよい。Finally, cut when most of the moisture has been drained or wrung out of the wakame.
  2. 調味料を全てボールにいれ、わかめを加え、味がしみこむように混ぜる。Add all of the condiments and ingredients to a bowl, and then wakame and mix well till sauce and other ingredients penetrate the seaweed well.
  3. 落としぶたとおもしをのせ、ひと晩寝かせれば完成。Use a lid with a weight over the wakame and leave overnight.
    タッパーなどに移しかえ冷蔵庫で保管すると、1週間程度食べられる。 Remove to a Tupperware and store in a refrigerator, serve and eat in about one week.


Wakame tempura recipe


・塩蔵わかめ・・・50グラム 50 g salt-preserved wakame
・玉ねぎ・・・2分の1個(120グラム) 120 g / 1/2 onion
・にんじん・・・4分の1本(50グラム) 50 g carrots (1/4 carrot)
・ごぼう・・・5分の1本(50グラム) 50 g burdock (1/5 stick)
・天ぷら粉・・・120グラム 120 g tempura flour
・水・・・カップ1 1 Cup water

<作り方> Method

  1. わかめは塩抜きして水気をよくきって荒く刻み、玉ねぎ・にんじん・ごぼうは千切りに、水にさらしておく。Soak Wakame seawed in water, then drain well and  julienne the onion, carrot that has been pre-soaked in water
  2. 水(少なめ)でとかした天ぷら粉に、(1)の材料を全ていれ、揚げる。Add a small amount of water to dissolve the tempura flour, then add (1) to the tempura mixture and fry in oil (watch how to make vegetable tempura video).


Finally, adding raw mekabu to any wakame increases the health benefits  as well texture and taste …well, to the Japanese anyway (an acquired taste and texture), the neba-neba “sliminess” makes the food more delicious. Mekabu is the budding root portion of wakame seaweed.

Below is the local fisherman’s recipe:

<Material (2 persons)> Ingredients

・生のめかぶ(千切りにしたもの)・・・200グラム200 g Raw finely  julienned mekabu
・沸騰したお湯・・・カップ6 6 Cups of boiling water
・水・・・カップ1 1 cup of water

<作り方>Preparation Method

  1. 生のめかぶの芯を抜き、それ以外の部分を1~2ミリ程度に千切りにする。Extract the core of the raw mekabu, and julienne the other portion
    ※切る前に風にあてて少し乾かすと切りやすくなる。Tip: Wind-dry slightly before cutting, will make it easier to cut finely.
  2. 沸騰したお湯に水を加え、80度程度に温度を下げる。Bring water to a  boil and then lower to about  80 degrees Celcius
  3. ザルに千切りにしためかぶを入れて、鍋のお湯に1秒つけたら引き上げ、全体を均一にかき混ぜる。これを4回程度くりかえし、めかぶの色が緑色になったら、お皿にだし2分程度混ぜると、粘りがでてくる。Place the julienned mekabu into a sieve and drop into the water for 1 second then lift and mix well the mekabu all over (but don’t over-stir)
    ※ザルではかき混ぜすぎないこと。粘りがザルから出てしまうため  as the mekabu turns green, the mekabu will, after 2 minutes, have the right “sticky” texture.

* Serve according to your liking (with soy sauce or without) and locals like eating mekabu with boiled rice or topping noodles

Recipes are my translation of the NHK Asaichi TV programme


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