Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Kelp Noodle Salad

You are probably thinking right now, what are kelp noodles? When I came across a recipe for kelp noodles in a vegan cookbook, my first thought was that pieces of kelp had been sliced thin and were being used like noodles. Being a reluctant seaweed eater, but someone who insists on making seaweed a part of my diet anyway because of its insane health benefits -- more vitamins and minerals than any plant grown on land -- I did not want to eat a big bowl of sliced kelp. But when I stumbled upon a package of kelp noodles at the Asian market, I couldn't resist. They look like clear vermicelli noodles, but they are made out of only kelp! As a result, they have all the nutrients of kelp but without the starch that is the basis of most noodles. All this sounded good, but what about the taste? Delicious! Different than any other noodle, they retain their firm texture, almost crunchy like a vegetable in the mouth. But for a light summer meal, they were exactly what the doctor ordered. 
I had a bunch of Southeast Asian seasonings on hand from a Thai dinner party I cooked, so threw in some lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, ginger and chiles. If you don't have any lemongrass or lime leaves, leave it out. The real key to this noodle salad is the fresh herbs. Mint, cilantro and basil provide bright, refreshing flavors that make it extra tasty. Any vegetables you have on hand can go into the salad. I used shredded broccoli stems, but any shredded vegetable will do. Finally, the sliced mango on top provides a tart sweetness that really rounds out the flavors of this refreshing salad. With no added sugar and minimal oil, this healthy and refreshing salad will leave you feeling as good as it tastes.

Kelp Noodle Salad
If you don't have access to kelp noodles, substitute rice noodles, soaked in hot water until soft.
1/2 red onion, sliced
about 1 cup shredded broccoli stems
2-3 serrano chiles, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 inch ginger, thinly sliced
1/2 stalk lemongrass, minced finely
2 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
1 package kelp noodles, rinsed
lime juice, to taste
3 tbs. soy sauce, or to taste
1 handful greens (I used kale), chopped
1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
mint, cilantro, and basil, chopped 
1/2 mango, thinly sliced (for garnish)

Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, and any water necessary to prevent it from sticking. When lightly browned, add broccoli slaw, chiles, lemongrass and lime leaves. Cook until broccoli stems are tender, adding water as necessary. Add rinsed kelp noodles and stir to combine. Add greens and stir to wilt. Add soy sauce, lime juice and sesame oil. Turn off heat and stir in fresh herbs. Serve immediately, at room temperature or chill in fridge. Garnish wish sliced mango and a squeeze of lime juice.

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