Arame is a seaweed and is just another species of Kelp, widely used in Japanese cooking. Commercially available in the dried form, the ingredient can be reconstituted within only five minutes. The seaweed appears in strands that are dark brown in color, with a firm texture and a mildly semi-sweet flavor. The reconstituted Arame seaweed can then be served as it is or used for garnishing dishes.
This seaweed is considered the mildest tasting of all. It is hand harvested, sun-dried, shredded and then, air-dried naturally. The sun-dried fronds are subjected to continual five hours steaming to soften them and brighten their color, after which, they are air dried. Popularly, these brown algae are picked off the Ise Bay shores in Japan, where they thrive in the cool arctic current. Only the tendermost algae are picked, during the summer months.
Culinary Uses of Arame
The ingredient finds the company of a lot of other kinds of seaweeds, when it is used in the Japanese salads and the marinated dishes. This apart, arame is generously employed in wide range of casseroles, appetizers, pilafs, toasted foods, muffins and soups, as the mild flavor always enables the ingredient to adapt to almost any kind of dish. In the salads or soups, the seaweed can be added after being sautéed or steamed. The algae can be also be used in whole grain preparations, stir fries, homemade breads, tempeh and tofu burgers, vegetable dishes, croquettes and stuffing. When cooked, the ingredient doubles up in size. The ingredient is also commonly used in sushis, draping it over the sushi rice. Sauteing the seaweed in oil detracts the fishy taste of fish containing dish, which many eaters do not like.
Popular Arame Recipes
Arame Salad with Tofu Garlic Dressing – For making this dish, the simmered and chopped arame is tossed with the blanched beans and vegetables like celery, carrots, peas and red onions. A tofu dressing is made and topped over this salad and served.
Mung Bean Pasta with Arame – For this dish, boiled pasta and arame are mixed with carrots, soy sauce, ginger, toasted sesame seeds, scallions, peas, and hot pepper sesame oil.
Curried Cabbage & Arame – This recipe calls for sautéing the soaked and chopped arame in oil with cabbage, shoyu and soaking water. To the ingredients then, curry is mixed and the dish is simmered and served with parsley garnish.
Arame with Dried Lotus Root – This is made by sautéing chopped lotus root, arame and carrots and then, simmering them in water, spices, shoyu and ginger juice.
Arame Stuffed Mushroom Caps – This delicacy is prepared by sautéing stem-less mushrooms, onions and arame and then, cooking them in a mixture of lemon juice, shoyu, ginger juice and mirin. This mixture is then stuffed into the mushroom caps, baked and served with parsley garnish.
Preferable Cooking Methods for Arame
Arame needs a quick but careful rinse before being cooked, so as to remove the shells and sand that might be clinging onto it. Then, the seaweed needs to be soaked completely in water, for no more than five minutes. A cup of dried arame becomes as much as 2 to 3 cups when soaked, and so, it should be used accordingly. Generally, the excess water is gently squeezed out of it before being cooked and then, sautéed with the vegetables. In the next stage, it is simmered in the cooking water until it becomes tender and absorbs the liquid. Finally, it is seasoned. Some of the vegetables that best combine with arame are daikon radish, lotus root, shitake, winter squash, carrots and onions. This apart, tofu, rice, barley and millet, go well with arame.
Nutritive Value of Arame
Arame is enriched with iodine, magnesium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin K and calcium. It is also a recommended dietary source for various other nutrients. It contains the tripeptide eisenin peptide and polysaccharide laminarin, which improve body’s immunity. The lignans present in it are known to fight cancer. However, being a seaweed, it contains sodium and thus, this food may not be advisable for consumption by a person on a sodium restricted diet. Dietary fiber is also contained in good amounts in arame seaweed. The alga is also known to promote shiny hair, stronger nails and clearer complexion in the eaters.
When eaten in combination with Hiziki, it prevents hair loss, improves hair growth and thyroid functions and acts as an anti-aging agent. Moreover, this combination also detoxifies the body and improves the functions of pancreas, stomach and spleen.
A popular substitute for arame is Hijiki, but it differs in taste and flavor.