This is a dish to create when time is plentiful and distractions are few. It involves some meditative chopping, slicing and a little toasting, all of which can be done ahead of time. The sweet, sour and spicy flavors of the salad are enhanced if it is allowed to rest for a few hours or even a day before serving. Yield: About four portions, but if you really love sea vegetables, you might want to double the recipe.
1 ounce dried wakame sea vegetable*
4 medium watermelon radishes
3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
fresh juice of 2 lemons
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon hot pepper sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
3- 4 tablespoons sesame seeds, freshly toasted
Rehydrate wakame by placing it in a bowl with enough cool water to cover. Let it rest for about five minutes, then drain and squeeze out excess water with your hands. Using a sharp knife and clean cutting board, slice the wakame into thin strips. The tough center ribs of the plant can be set aside for later use in soup, or simply slice them very fine and use in the salad.
Scrub and trim radishes.
Slice radishes into rounds.
Julienne rounds into matchsticks.
Toast sesame seeds in a heavy skillet until just fragrant, then pour into a ceramic plate to cool.
Combine vinegar, lemon juice, maple syrup, sesame oil and sea salt in a bowl and whisk together briefly. Add the sliced wakame and radish and toss gently to coat the vegetables. Sprinkle with about half the toasted sesame seeds, reserving the remainder to use as a garnish at the table. Salad will keep well in a clean glass container for up to three days.
* Wakame sea vegetable is sold dried, often in one ounce packages.
Variation: Add one good quality crisp apple, sliced into matchsticks.