Ocean Salad with Lemon-Miso Dressing

Kaisō Sarada

Some sea vegetables are harvested by season, just like corn or pumpkins. Wakamé, or sea-tangle, is sweetest and most lustrous in the early spring, and that’s when it’s harvested in Japan. At that time wakamé is sometimes served fresh, as sashimi, although most of the crop is dried and stored for the year to come. This salad uses dried wakamé since it is readily available in specialty stores.

The recipe here offers two dressings, one that is classic, the other contemporary. Both owe their tart, robust flavor to a lemon and miso (bean paste) mixture; the traditional dressing is thick like a sauce, while the modern one, based on a Continental-type vinaigrette, pours easily. The miso vinaigrette dressing is also fabulous on tossed greens.

Ingredients

  • 1 small daikon (Japanese white radish), about 12 ounces
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large carrot, about 5 ounces
  • 1 packet (5 grams) dried cut wakamé (sea-tangle)

Classic Lemon-Miso Sauce

  • ¼ cup shiro miso (light fermented bean paste)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon grated lemon peel

Vinaigrette Dressing, Optional

  • tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons fruity olive oil

Method

  1. Peel the radish, then cut it into fine thread-like julienne strips about 1½ inches long. Place these in a bowl and sprinkle with half the salt.
  2. Peel the carrot, and cut it into 1½-inch-long segments. Cut the carrot into fine thread-like julienne strips. Place these in a separate bowl and sprinkle with the remaining salt.
  3. Soak the sea-tangle in the water for 10 minutes.
  4. In a small saucepan, mix the bean paste with the sugar and lemon juice. Stirring, cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, until glossy, bubbly, and thick. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the grated lemon peel. Allow the sauce to cool to room temperature.
  5. If you wish, combine the vinaigrette dressing ingredients in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Add the classic sauce while it is still warm, cover, and shake to mix the dressing. Chill the dressing. (Just before using, shake again.)
  6. Squeeze the shredded radish to wilt it, and pour away the accumulated liquid. Rinse the radish under cold water to remove all traces of salt. Squeeze and/or spin dry. Follow the same procedure for the carrot shreds.
  7. Drain the sea-tangle, blotting away excess moisture with paper towels.
  8. In each of four glass bowls, mound a portion of the shredded radish, the shredded carrot, and the green sea-tangle. Chill, or serve at room temperature.
  9. Either place a dollop of traditional sauce to the side of the mounded vegetables, or drizzle the contemporary miso vinaigrette lightly over the vegetables.