Kaisou Salad


Nori, geröstete Blätter aus Algen, die vor all...

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Kaisou (or sanko) is a mix of sea vegetables (“kelp”, “seaweed”). There are many varieties of sea vegetables on the market, but some of the most well-known are nori, wakame and kombu.

Nori is the most familiar sea vegetable in the U.S.   Nori usually comes in sheets that are paper-thin, and is often used to wrap sushi rolls. Nori starts as small, soft, algae spores that attach themselves to netting on the surface of shallow bays. These spores gradually grow into wavy leaves and are harvested. On shore, the nori is washed, chopped, pressed into thin sheets between mats on wooden frames, and left to dry.  Like all sea vegetables, nori is high in minerals. It also has the highest vitamin A content of all the sea vegetables, but one of the lowest sodium content.

Wakame is a long, dark green, fern-like sea vegetable that grows on the ocean floor. After it is cut and floats to the surface, it is raked together and brought ashore, where it is washed and hung on ropes to dry. Wakame is high in dietary fiber, calcium, iodine, and alginic acid, among other vitamins and minerals. The alginic acid in wakame is said to bond with heavy metals, make them insoluble, and remove them from the body. (I’ve read somewhere that after the Nagasaki bombing, people who ate a strict diet of brown rice and miso soup with sea vegetables did not suffer from radiation poisoning.) Wakame works as a blood-thinning agent, so people taking anti-coagulating medications should avoid it. Wakame is used mainly in soups and salads. You can find wakame salad on the menu at most Japanese restaurants.

Kombu is a ribbon-like, dark green, leafy plant that grows to around three feet high on the ocean floor in shallow water. After the leaves are cut and brought ashore, they are folded and dried in the sun. Dried kombu is used in simmered dishes and soup stock, although I’ve seen kombu candy sold in Asian food markets. Kombu is high in alginic acid, dietary fiber, iodine, and calcium. It is also high in glutamic acid, the ingredient that researchers found to be kombu’s natural flavor enhancer (from which the synthetic form of monosodium glutamate was developed).

These three sea vegetables have been used in Japan and Korea for centuries to lower cholesterol levels, stabilize blood pressure, cleanse the blood, and treat hypothyroid conditions. Because of their extremely high mineral content, they can be consumed in small quantities, usually as a side dish or as a supplemental ingredient in the main dish.

I stumbled upon this package of kansou salad (the only English I could find on the package was on the “Nutrition Facts” sticker). The ingredients were “dried seaweed, snow fungus, and agar agar”. I grew up eating agar agar in various, often pretty, gelatinous treats. Interestingly, the sticker listed 0% of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium and Iron. It also listed sodium at 20% though…yipes.

That did not stop me from trying to make a very delicious kansou salad. I looked up recipes for wakame salad, but opted to leave out the sugar (1 teaspoon if you wanted to add it.)

First, soak a handful of the dried sea vegetable in a bowl of warm water for about 7 minutes.

Then, shake vigorously in a jar:

3 Tablespoon seasoned rice wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon white sesame seeds (I toasted them first)
1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes

After draining the kansou, I removed excess water by patting the seaweed down on a couple of sheets of paper towel. (I also cut them up into smaller strips because the kombu and wakame were pretty big). Then I tossed in the vinegar mixture and mixed it up  well. It was a delicious and nutritious treat to make in a very short amount of time!


9 thoughts on “Kaisou Salad

  1. Thank you so much for this recipe, my brother lives in San Francisco and he just sent me some of this same mixture but I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I love being able to go online and find sites like your that are so helpful. I live in Panama City Florida and beside for the military brides there isn’t much diversity around here when it comes to food. Thanks again & I will let you know how it turns out. Kim Summerell

    • Hi Kim, I hope you get a chance to try it out. This stuff is really tasty and nutritious. I really am surprised to hear there’s not much diversity there, considering what a well-known and well-traveled to place Florida is. I suppose you don’t get much of an Asian culture though…the last time I visited (Sarasota), I couldn’t find fish sauce anywhere. There was one sushi restaurant, after seven CONSECUTIVE steakhouses! Haha. But you sure do have lovely beaches!

  2. Dear Madeleine and Gingersnap!
    I’m glad to hear that you both are feeling better (so sorry that Madeleine got sick too!) and quite interested to read that Mama L. puts a little seaweed on top of your home-cooked special meals. Because your Mama L. has been so worn out lately, I hope that you will make sure that she gets some special meals too, and plenty of nutritious seaweed. It’s very good that you are giving your mamas extra long walks in the afternoon. My cat, Fiona, doesn’t take walks (at least none that she tells us about), so I it’s hard for me to be a good exercise hound (no double entendre intended!). Also, would you please ask Mama L. to post some tips on where to buy the wakame and kombu or the kansu mix?
    Thank you and enjoy the bright, warm afternoons!

    Hugs and pats,
    Auntie Peggy

  3. Dear Auntie Peggy,

    We try real hard to keep both Mamas healthy by exercising them everyday! When Mama L. gets home from work, we make sure she walks with us for at least a half an hour. Most doctors agree that a human should walk at least a half hour a day for optimal health. That’s also about the right amount of time it takes us to decipher all the smells in the neighborhood. Every now and then, Mama M. takes us on walks too! She’s a little bit more regimented than Mama L. and we have to walk in a straight line like proper good dogs.

    We don’t know where Mama L. got the wakame or the kombu. We asked her and she said it’s some place called “Whole Foods”. But since we’ve never been there, we can’t vouch for it. We hear they have wonderful food there. But we do know where Mama L. got the kansou mix — it’s from Ranch 99 Supermarket on Central Avenue in Albany. We’ll bet if you ask her, she’ll bring you some the next time she goes up there.

    We also heard some news about Sarah, and we’re both crossing our paws in good thoughts! Please give her lots of puppy licks and tell her we wish she’s feeling better already! Does she need a chewcap or rawhide or pizzle? We can send Sarah a big care basket as a surprise!


    Madeleine and Gingersnap!

  4. Dear Madeleine and Gingersnap!

    You are such thoughtful pups (I hope you don’t mind my use of the diminutive). I know that Sarah would greatly appreciate your puppy affection and offers of rawhides and chewcaps. She might need you to explain a pizzle, but I know she would appreciate the sentiment. She is doing well, and we both appreciate knowing that you are sending tail wags and love.

    I will definitely talk to your Mama L. about the seaweed and where to find it. But speaking of seaweed, have you ever thought that you girls might like the beach? I know dogs who absolutely love it, running to catch pieces of driftwood, digging furiously in the wet sand after some enticing rotting smell, dashing up and down the strand, and even – for some dogs – charging into the waves to go after a thrown ball, a stick or a seagull. Our dog friend, Riggs, loves to swim out into the ocean and try to catch up with sea lions. They are creatures who call their babies “pups,” but spend lots of time in the water catching fish to eat. The sea lions that Riggs swims with always let him get close, then dive under the surface of the water and swim away. It’s very frustrating for Riggs, who just wants to be friends! On the other hand (paw), there are many dogs who would just as soon stay far away from watery places. Maybe you girls are that sort of dog – especially since you don’t like Mr. Sprinkler.

    At any rate, I’m glad that your mamas had such a nice outdoors-y time on their anniversary. Hiking and soaking up negative ions at the beach are extremely therapeutic to hardworking gals who have to stay indoors on their jobs and put up with other people’s stuff. But, you are right; the beach they went to is on a very winding road; you really would not have enjoyed that car ride! Suggest to your mamas the beach in Pacifica. It’s much easier to get to.

    Hugs and pats.

    Auntie Peggy

  5. Dear Auntie Peggy,

    It’s probably a big surprise, so maybe we shouldn’t tell you, but we saw Mama L. putting a couple of bags of that kansou stuff into her backpack. Make sure you act all confounded when she presents you with the seaweed, otherwise she’ll know that we told you!

    We are really happy to know that Sarah is doing much better! That means we’ll get to keep all our treats, even though we would have been more than happy to share them with her if it means she would have gotten better quicker. If Sarah doesn’t know what a pizzle is, she doesn’t need to know. The Mamas said it is the stinkiest thing on the planet! Which is why we’re not allowed in the bedroom with them EVER. Madeleine sure likes to roll over them, though.

    Speaking of dead fish, we’ve never been to a beach, Auntie Peggy. The Mamas kept talking about it, but when it comes right down to it, we may get a bath if we’re lucky. Do you think it’s anything like Piano Lake? We didn’t see any sea lions in the lake. We didn’t see anything at all. But that was probably coz we were too scared of the water to notice. The Mamas felt bad making us go in the lake because they were supposed to let us come to terms with it ourselves. (But that would have never happened without some sort of encouragement…like a ball or something.) But now that you told us about Pacifica and how it wouldn’t make Madeleine sick, maybe we can get the Mamas to take us on an outing! Do they allow dogs on the beach there? Can Riggs come too? Maybe he can show us some of his sea lion friends! That would be truly wonderful, since we love all animals!

    We lost two neighborhood cats this past month, Auntie Peggy! Fast Eddy and Ahab were both gone within a week of each other. Gingersnap! was a little sad not to have seen them, but she was kind of glad too coz they always hissed and spitted at her. Mama L. found out that Ahab was 17 years old when he passed away! That’s 119 in dog years! (We asked Mama L. to use her calculator, since none of us could do math.)

    Oh, there’s one more thing we haven’t told you! The Mamas are putting in a dog park for us in the back yard! You should see it, Auntie Peggy. It doesn’t look like much right now, except to us, (and especially to Madeleine, coz she usually scouts around for kitty poop). But tomorrow, Mr. Long, the gardener, is going to put grass in just for us! The Mamas also got a persimmon tree and two blueberry bushes! We don’t know anything about persimmons, but we sure love blueberries when they’re ripe! Mama L. told us today that Mama M. doesn’t know it yet, but she’s getting some gigantic aluminum tubs to grow her vegetables in! Stuff we can all eat, and they’ll be grown from heirloom seeds! We’re really excited, coz not only will the Dog Park be a great place to visit, it will also have all sort of yummy things to nibble on. Maybe the Mamas can put up a bat house and a couple of bird houses too!

    Love, Madeleine and Gingersnap!

  6. Dear Little G! and Madeleine,

    I made the kaisou salad that your Mama L. brought me. (What a dear friend she is to bring me such vital supplies!) I didn’t have all the ingredients that she listed in her recipe, so this is what I used with 3 handfuls of the soaked, drained and patted seaweed:

    apple cider vinegar
    toasted sesame oil
    juice of 2 limes
    fresh cilantro leaves
    red pepper flakes
    toasted sesame seeds
    package of kelp noodles with green tea (drained and cut)

    The salad was SO refreshing and delicious! Thank you so much!

    Auntie Peggy

    ps: I’m very excited about your new garden and grass! The picture looked just gorgeous! Have you girls had fun chasing each other around and rolling on the new lawn?

    pps: I will be glad to describe Pacifica beaches to Mama L. When we used to live there we took our old dog, Ralph, down our street and across the highway to Rockaway Beach. There are other beaches too; I’ll find out which of them are good for dogs. You might be interested to know that Ralph did not like the water at all. He stayed far away, and just nosed around at the seaweed and other beach stuff. Ralph was a sheepdog variety. Our friend, Riggs, however, is a retriever, and he sure loves to plunge into the waves to retrieve a stick! Riggs doesn’t live near this beach, though; he lives near a beach in Santa Barbara. Sometimes he and his human, Trev, make a car trip up here. He is very friendly to all creatures and has become a service dog. Of course, I realize that you both are probably very good service dogs to your mamas already, but Riggs gets to wear a special kerchief and harness when Trev wants to show that Riggs is “working.” The next time that Riggs and Trev come up to the Bay Area, I will let your mamas know, and maybe we can have a play date!

  7. Pingback: Dear Diary, | lounge lassie's world

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