Kerabu Eucheuma Coral Seaweed
I bought quite a number of packets of these coral seaweed last year at a food fair. Touted as “sea bird’s nest“, these wobbly translucent branches immediately caught the attention of many
housewives aunties ladies, thanks to the high content of carrageenan, which has textural properties likening collagen. Well, truth be told, it isn’t the real deal as collagen is found only in animals, specifically vertebrates. But its pretty yummy and I’m sure being a seaweed, it has many beneficial qualities as well!
Kerabu Eucheuma Coral Seaweed is a very simple to prepare toss-in “wet salad” which is ideal as an appetiser. A melange of savory and sourish notes hinted with a bit of heat from the chilies make this moreish dish ideal to get those salivary glands working! Texture wise, it is also very interesting, a lovely blend of crunch from the julienned vegetables used as well as the “squishy” and “squirmish” qualities of the coral seaweed. A good dish is not complete without a thorough working on the aromatics. And this is well-taken care of by the use of bunga kantan as well as bombay onion, not forgetting the nutty aroma imbued through the generous sprinking of peanuts and toasted sesame seeds. Personally, what really made the dish work together is the belachan. Then again, that is almost entirely a personal bias.
Dehydrated coral seaweed encrusted with a thin layer of salt. Stringy and slightly elastic like rubber band, they rapidly transform to what they are meant to be when they are back in their elements. Seaweed farming is commonly practiced in this part of the world, from the islands of Indonesia, past the Philippines, stretching all the way to the Okinawan Islands in southern Japan. Seaweed culture is one of the trades engaged by the people of Tawau in Sabah.
Reconstituted coral seaweed after some soaking and water changes, becoming much more voluminous many times over!
Spreading open a “branch”, shedding light to their name, likening fan coral. The generic name represents a group of cultivated seaweed usually under the genera Eucheuma and Coralline. Rich in minerals as well as numerous trace elements, coral seaweed is often boasted to have skin rejuvenating properties amidst other medical qualities.
Pickling with salt and sugar, as well as a blend of chilies and belachan subsequently. It is good on its own already!
With the remaining ingredients in the mixing bowl a la bimbimbap before the final toss!
50g dehydrated coral seaweed
1 Japanese cucumber, core and seeds removed
1 medium bombay onion, peeled
1 red chili, deseeded
1 bunga kantan, bud only
2 red chillies, deseeded and coarsely chopped
1 tsp belachan, toasted and crushed
3-4 tbsp sugar (adjust to taste)
1/2-1 tsp salt (adjust to taste)
Juice of 5-6 calamansi lime (adjust to taste)
1-2 tbsp chopped roasted peanuts
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
1 sprig chinese coriander
Reconstitute dehydrated coral seaweed in a bowl of water for 2 hours, changing water every half an hour. For the first 2 water changes, gently rub the seaweed between fingers to dislodge any bits of encrusted salt which fail to dissolve. Cut seaweed into smaller chunks with scissors. Drain well and set aside.
Blend chopped chili, toasted belachan and lime juice under a coarse paste is obtained. Do not need to blend too finely.
In a mixing bowl, add reconstituted seaweed, salt and sugar, belachan chili blend and mix evenly. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour.
Meanwhile, julienne all the vegetables (carrot, Japanese cucumber, Bombay onion, bunga kantan and red chili). Chill in refrigerator
After the pickling is done, taste and adjust with more salt, sugar and/or lime juice.
Toss in julienned vegetables.
Plate up and sprinkle generously with sesame seeds and chopped peanuts. Garnish with chinese coriander if desire and serve immediately.