Mystery seaweed and aonori

Posted on Jan 9, 2012 in Hiroko's Blog

I had exchanged several mails with Chef Jessica at International Culinary Center about a particular seaweed which a two-Michelen star restaurant chef is desperately searching for. My last straw (advice) to offer to her was aonori, which I later learned that it was not the one which the chef is looking for. There seems to be variety of edible, delicious seaweed enjoyed by non-Japanese. You may do not much aware of aonori as chef Jessica, so here is some information for you. Aonori grows in blackish water many places in the world. The leaves are very thin and fine strips. Their growing months are from late autumn through winter. The color of the aonori is intense, beautiful green. It is always sold dried. The flavor of aonori is unique and different from other Japanese seaweeds such as wakame. Aonori has a distinctive chlorophyll-like……fragrant green flavor. I gave some aonori (from Japan, the very special one) to Chef Jessica and suggested that she should try it in her risotto. I am waiting for her reaction.

There is another very noted seaweeds which we consume in Japan. It comes from the southern most island of Okinawa. It is called umi budo, grapes of ocean. Tiny balls of seaweed – looks like tiny green caviar – is crusted to a string of seaweed. When I visited Okinawa 5 years ago, I had an opportunity to eat them fresh. When I bit into tiny green caviar, I heard thunder of crunchy noise which was followed by delicious (yes umami) flavor going up my nostril. Later when I flew to Tokyo I found the salt cured umi budo sold at department store food court. I tried this type, but the fresh one was much better. I will find the photos of umi budo which I took during my stay in Okinawa and post it later.