Seven Seaweed Samurai

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By Heidi Lewis

On these stormy days when sunlight flickers behind the clouds, creating contrast of noir shadows and daggers of harsh light, it’s a perfect time to review some classic black and white films. How about dinner and a movie? A little seething Peter Lorre to go with the soup? Some hard-boiled Bogart and a slice of heart-breaking Billy Wilder are good accompaniments, but Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai goes with everything. This classic film of seven samurai warriors protecting a village of farmers is on just about everyone’s desert island list. And this week in your TakeHome case, you’ll find gomasio, which goes with everything too.

Gomasio is a traditional Japanese condiment, adopted by many in the West as a flavorful alternative to table salt. It’s a combination of dried, flaked seaweed, toasted sesame seeds, and sea salt. This gomasio is made by Ocean Harvest in Mendocino County, CA, from seven different kinds of seaweed, including varieties of brown, green, and red. Different color seaweeds have different nutritional attributes. “Red seaweeds are high in iron and protein; green seaweeds are high in vitamin A; and brown seaweeds are high in calcium and alginate,” says Terry d’Selkie of Ocean Harvest. Alginate is known to bind with heavy metals, toxins, and pollution and expel them from the body. Seaweed also contains iodine.

Seaweed is worth investigating for its multiple benefits, in and on the body. There are many ways to eat it. Nori-rolled sushi, kombu in cooking, wakame in seaweed salad, or any kind toasted, salty or sweet. Gomasio is a great way to get your daily dose — sprinkled on rice, noodles, steamed veggies, or fresh salad. Terry recommends grinding it in a mortar and pestle (or the Japanese version, a suribachi and surikogi) to intensify the flavor.

Scientists still don’t know why seaweed has so many health benefits. Maybe because it floats dreamily between the dark and light. We do know it grows in great abundance — it appears to be the sea’s gift to us.

Terry and the harvesters at Ocean Harvest pull in their crops of sea vegetables by hand from the wild Mendocino coast. During the full and new moons they gather and carry the slippery and heavy loads up the cliffs for rinsing and drying.   They wild craft sustainably. "Seaweed harvesting is exciting, adventurous and hard work.  It is very gratifying knowing that we are providing food and medicine to people who appreciate seaweeds and their multiple health benefits," says Terry.

Preparation: Just shake 1 teaspoon or more over any food (grinding first for enhanced flavor if desired).

Storage: Store where you’ll use it all the time; keeps at room temperature.


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