When I see a seabean in the farmers market, it reminds me of Okinawan foods. My brother lived in the Ishigaki island of Okinawa, the southernmost prefecture in Japan. Because of climate and history, Okinawa has own culinary culture and ingredients which I cannot find in the main island of Japan. One of them is “Umi-budo” known as sea grapes or sea caviar. Sea grapes are seaweed with salty and popping texture, and it’s good for salad. Although a seabean is more crunchy rather than popping texture, the nice mouth feel and saltiness are similar in both. I thought I can use a seabean like a sea grape.
I have believed a sea grape is good for “shiraae”—Japanese classic appetizer dish, seasoned vegetables dresses with the mashed tofu and sesame seeds. Becase of a sea grape is already salty and the texture can be a nice accent! However, I could never have been able to try it, sine I couldn’t access to fresh sea grapes from Tokyo area.
With a same reason, saltiness and nice crispness, I tried to make the seabean shiraae this time. Seabeans are really easy to use. Blanch it in boiling water for a few seconds and cool in the ice water.
There are two secrets of making delicious shiraae: to firm up tofu by parboiling and to season vegetables before dressing with tofu mixture.
Blanching takes away the excess water and firms up tofu. Since tofu is mostly water, it ends up very soggy shiraae. You can press tofu to remove water, but I like blanching because it is faster. After parboiling tofu, place on a kitchen paper and chill in a refrigerator.
To season vegetables, simmer a shiitake and a carrot in soy sauce and mirin base stock. Little sweet touch from mirin balances the saltiness of a seabean. Chill those in a stock and drain well before mixing.
I put blanched tofu through a sieve to make fluffy and creamy mixture. I used peanut butter instead of ground sesame seed to have a rich-tasting tofu mixture.
- Tofu paste
- 5oz Japanese firm tofu, cut into ½” cubes
- 1 teaspoon peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
- 1.7 oz seabean
- 1 oz carrot, cut into julienne
- 2 ea dried shiitake mushroom, soaked in water and cut into julienne (reserve the soaking water)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoon mirin
- Blanch tofu briefly to firm up tofu. Drain and chill in a refrigerator.
- Bring the water to the boil and blanch a seabean for a few seconds. Cool it immediately in the ice water. Drain well and place on a kitchen paper to remove any excess water.
- Pour ½ cup of the reserved soaking water of shiitake to a pot, add soy sauce, mirin, and shiitake. Simmer for 3 minutes. Add carrots and simmer for 1 minute. Remove the pot from the heat and cool it in a refrigerator. Take shiitakes and carrots from cooking liquid and pat it dry.
- Make a tofu paste. Put chilled tofu cubes through a sieve. Add peanut butter and light soy sauce. Mix.
- Add a seabean, shiitake, and carrot to the tofu paste. Mix lightly.