While nori, the seaweed used for rolling sushi, is usually sold dried, wakame can be found either dried or fresh, in a refrigerated, and sealed package. When refrigerated, the wakame is preserved with sea salt and is partially dry so that it’s moist to the touch, but not dehydrated and brittle like nori sheets.
Along with the increased popularity of both the raw food diet (also called living foods) and macrobiotic diets, wakame, has gained in popularity in the west. Proponents of both macrobiotic and raw foods diet extol the life-giving and healthful properties of wakame along with other seaweeds.
How to prepare wakame:
Use kitchen shears to cut wakame into desired size, as it can be tough to cut with a knife. Remember, seaweed will expand significantly when rehydrated, so cut into pieces much smaller than the desired finishing size. If your wakame has a thick stem, remove this part, as it’s not edible.
The friendly proprietors of family-owned Nikka Japanese Market in Santa Barbara, California tell me its best to soak fresh wakame for around a half an hour before using, to reduce the saltiness. Browner varieties have a stronger flavor, while the greener seaweeds are more mild.
Recipes using wakame seaweed: