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stefanyb

Seaweed

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About arsenic sugar:

The right technical term is probably arseno sugar (although I am not 100% sure).

Thank you Hiroyuki, I was able to find a wealth of information about arsenosugars, which I've never heard of before.

It seems that hijiki contains a few different arsenic compounds- inorganic arsenic and arsenosugars. There is no question that inorganic arsenic is highly toxic, but there are two things that no one seems to agree on:

First, does hijiki even contain inorganic arsenic? Most of the English-language sources confirm that it does, but I couldn't find any Japanese sites that even mentioned inorganic arsenic (this could be more to do with my poor reading skills though).

And second, about arsenosugars. Most sources, in English or Japanese, say arsenosugars abound in hijiki, but strangely the CFIA warning doesn't even mention them.

More to the point, are arsenosugars really harmless? Again, the English and Japanese sources differed here, with Japanese research apparently proving that arsenosugars pass through the body without causing any harm. English-language sources, however, mention research that shows that arsenosugars are metabolized in the body into a compound called dimethylarsinic acid (DMAA) as well as other forms of arsenic. Not much is known about DMAA, but it certainly can't be considered harmless.

This site, http://www.clinchem.org/cgi/eletters/44/3/539 , hs this to say:

There is little information on the toxicity of arsenosugars. Toxicological effects of the unidentified arsenic species due to metabolism of arsenosugars are not known. However, the increases in DMAA concentration due to arsenosugar metabolism should not be ignored. Although the acute toxicity of DMAA (LD50 = 700-2600 mg/kg) is much less than that of the inorganic arsenite (LD50 = 10-20 mg/kg), the genotoxic effects of these arsenic species are not well understood and may not follow the same order. Several studies suggest that DMAA may be more harmful than the inorganic arsenic species.

Why is there such a big difference between the Japanese research and the western research? Are the laws of physics different here in Japan? Do these scientists not read eachothers' findings?

In short, this claim of hijiki's arsenosugars being harmless smacks of sugar-coating. Sites like this http://www.iseko.com/kona/page/situmon.html , where hijiki products are on sale, assure us that hijiki's arsenic is safe.

A little too sweet for me, thanks.


My eGullet foodblog: Spring in Tokyo

My regular blog: Blue Lotus

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Thank you, smallworld, for your very informative post. But even after all this discussion, I can't stop eating hijiki. Coincidentally, I made a hijiki dish for supper yesterday.

Here is a photo of it. I usually add aburage (aburage is short for aburaage), but I used satsumaage (kind of fish sausage) this time. I usually add uchimame (beaten soybeans?) too. I wonder uchimame are available in the United States and other countries.

i8785.jpg

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I've recently run into two types of seaweed I have never seen before and was hoping you guys could give me some more information about them.

I had seaweed number one while staying at an osen in Himi, Toyama. It was served in a slightly citrus flavored broth with vegetables and seafood. The seaweed itself was olive green, and shaped like tiny branches. The part that really perked my interest was the fact that it was encased in a gelatin like substance. At first I thought the chef had actually dipped each piece of seaweed individually in gelatin, but my dinner table neighbor explained that it came naturally like that. Unfortuantely I forgot to ask her what it's name is.

Seaweed number two I saw in grocery stores. It was labelled ととろ (totoro if I am remembering correctly). It's a varigated light green (almost stripe like) sheet. Can anyone tell me more about how to prepare it and what kind of dishes it's used it? Google searches turned up to many references to the movie my neighbor totoro for me to go through. :laugh:

-thanks

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Okay, yeah it was tororo, not totoro. :hmmm: my bad. After reading the posts though, they've perked my interest. I am going out to buy some tonite.

I am not sure on the mozuku though, it was hard to tell from the pictures. I am going to try to go to a grocery store and ask if they have any.

Is it available at most supermarkets?


Edited by growpower (log)

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I guess so since it is usually available even at local supermarkets in my small town.

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I made okahijiki last night with the shira-ae "sauce" described above. I also added some myouga (ginger buds) for a little herbal note.

i11672.jpg


<p><strong>Kristin Wagner</strong>, aka "torakris"

Manager, Membership

<a class="bbc_email" href="mailto:kwagner@egstaff.org" title="E-mail Link">kwagner@egstaff.org</a></p>

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These are the simple sauces that I sometimes make to eat nori with rice.

Left: I mix equal amounts of soy sauce and mirin-like seasoning and heat it in the microwave for 20 seconds. This results in a simple yet savory sauce.

I often pour this sauce over the rice rather than dipping pieces of nori in the sauce one at a time.

Right: I just mix some salt with some sesame oil. I spread this sauce on a piece of nori with a spoon to mimic Korean nori.

gallery_16375_5_1100123454.jpg

What are your favorite ways of eating nori?

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Right:  I just mix some salt with some sesame oil.  I spread this sauce on a piece of nori with a spoon to mimic Korean nori.
unless the nori itself is significantly different, that isnt mimicing korean nori, it is korean style nori. :raz:

I understand that Korean nori is iwa nori 岩海苔 (don't know the English word for it). How do you eat Korean nori? Like these?

http://www.hct.zaq.ne.jp/agarikusu/nori/tabekata.htm

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I understand that Korean nori is iwa nori 岩海苔 (don't know the English word for it).  How do you eat Korean nori?  Like these?
i dont what iwa nori is. i guess this is a type of seaweed?

my statement was based on the fact that you used salt and sesame seed oil. as i understand it, japanese people dont usually season seaweed in this manner.

(note: following is slightly off topic...)

i am looking into a different kind of seaweed, called doljaban parae (돌자반파래), or parae for short, which is something similar to the everyday kim that you see, but it is a little thicker and when it is processed for selling, it is sold in very large packets consisting of a single large chunk of the parae. one single piece is typically 4 cm x 35 cm x 50 cm.

i have not had the time to research what kind of seaweed this (anything interesting seems to be in difficult-for-me korean.) is but back in october i did take some photos of parae that i bought. i have not processed the raw photos and will not burden people with them but here are links: <a href="http://www.rawbw.com/~coconut/temp/p.jpg">photo 1</a>, an image of a typical package and <a href="http://www.rawbw.com/~coconut/temp/p2.jpg">photo 2</a>, a close up of a small chunk pulled off. you cannot see it in the photo, but that chunk was quite tall, maybe a couple centimeters. definitely not a flat.

the reason i bring up parae is because it seems like it might be regular kim, but not pressed flat into sheets. but i dont know for sure. i selfishly wish there were more resources in english. in the meantime i am working on improving my korean.


"Bibimbap shappdy wappdy wap." - Jinmyo

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I made a wonderful salad with hijiki last night, I was planning on taking a picture but forgot....

I rehydrated some hijiki and mixed it with one julienned cucumber, then I made a dressing of equal parts canola oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce and about a quarter of an onion very finely minced (I soaked this in cold water for a bit before adding). I mixed everything together and added a handlful of toasted sliced almonds.

I adapted it a bit from a recipe I had in a Japanese cookbook and it really turned out great, the combination of hijiki and almonds was a surprise but they work really well together and I will be making it again!


<p><strong>Kristin Wagner</strong>, aka "torakris"

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<a class="bbc_email" href="mailto:kwagner@egstaff.org" title="E-mail Link">kwagner@egstaff.org</a></p>

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My wife and I sometimes make a simple salad with dry wakame and enoki mushrooms.

Dressing that we use with this salad:

Soy sauce : Vinegar : Sesame seed oil = 1 : 1 : 0.5

Hiroyuki, I tried that for lunch today and it was a very enjoyable combination of ingredients.

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I recently read a newspaper article reviewing a new book (in German only) featuring seaweed recipes. In the review, they stated that this book gave no recipes for either konbu or hijiki. The reason? These two allegedly are dangerous for your health.

According to the article, konbu and hijiki are the two seaweeds that contain maximum iodine. Because they are natural products growing in varying places under varying conditions, the amount of iodine they contain will vary greatly and can be anywhere between negligeable and enough to (allegedly) send your thyroid into shock.

They went on to state that eating konbu and hijiki is okay for Japanese as it has been eaten in Japan for generations, and peoples' bodies are used to it.

So then I went and had a quick look in local Asian grocery stores and health food stores. Sure enough, the range of other seaweeds is much larger, while the selection of konbu and hijiki is small. The health food stores actually have health warnings near the konbu saying not to consume too much.

Now, a search (admittedly quite a brief search) on Google suggested that too much is bad if you already have thyroid problems, but I couldn't find anything saying that it's actually going to CAUSE new problems.

And this deal about it being okay for Japanese (presuming that it truly is not okay to eat) because it's been eaten for generations sounds rather iffy to me. How much konbu or hijiki would poor peasants have been eating in pre-Meiji Japan if they were living inland? Konbu was, as I understand it, harvested in the north at considerable expense, and was costly enough that it was a major export article to China (where it was used by people as a salt substitute because salt was extremely highly taxed). So how many people were able to afford it and were eating it on a regular basis?

Your thoughts please.

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If their explanation is that people's bodies are used to high levels of iodine, I don't buy it. If they were explaining that some bacteria or fungus associated with konbu or hijiki was something that people's bodies in Japan were "used to", that might be more believable, but I'd still be skeptical. Mineral tolerances don't really dramatically vary between ethnic groups. This is just another kind of exoticization of the East, another example of orientalism.

I remember in Germany that people were absolutely convinced that Teflon pans were dangerous because they had always heard they were associated with Alzheimer's disease. Of course, this had already been debunked for years by the time I was there, as there was more aluminum exposure from the average deoderant than from even the most seriously scratched aluminum pan, but the rumor persisted that the Teflon itself was dangerous.

In the US the FDA over-reacted to occasional reports of people choking on konnyaku-based jellies and forced a recall. No similar recall was placed on Jello jigglers or Triscuits or any other food that it's possible to choke on when being careless. Sometimes people react more harshly to limited data on an unfamiliar product than they would to, for example, long-established, repeatedly verified data that excessive saturated fat consumption can be detrimental to health. You don't see meat or Crisco being pulled off the shelves.

People try to see harm or help in absolutely every little ingredient.

When I'm doing demonstrations of a candy or a tea product in a supermarket, it never fails that someone will ask me "is there some health benefit to eating/drinking this?" Or I see someone buy some product that has a huge amount of non-obvious sugar, and they say they can't eat the candy I import because it would have too much sugar (which turns out to be about 1.2 grams per serving, about 10% of the sugar in a glass of milk). I would love to explain that the health benefit or harm of a particular food is not the reason to decide to eat it or not.

In moderation, there's nothing wrong with kelp or hijiki. Both have minerals which are in fact quite beneficial in judicious quantities. In moderation, there's nothing wrong with butter or cheese or even sugar. Smoked fish from the North See contains carcinogens from the smoke, but no Northern German would give up their fish indulgences for that reason. I'm a vegetarian, but even I would say that for the most part meat or fish in moderation is perfectly healthy.

Europe is one place where people still eat food primarily focused on the pleasure of what they are eating and not based on the supposed medical effects of what they put into their bodies. The stuff that we use as substitutes for the things that we want to eat is rarely substantially healthier than what it substitutes for; this is a fetishization of ingredients that does more harm than good.

Japanese use konbu in nearly every dish in small quantities, because it's a component of nearly every soup stock. It provides natural glutamates that enhance the flavors of food. Hijiki is a common side dish. No one fills a 9" plate with konbu or hijiki and eats a big pile of it. This is not a matter of health; this is just the fact that doing so would be boring and inconsistent with Japanese plating customs. Japanese who are eating hijiki or konbu are not getting sick because of it, but this is not because of their bodies being used to it; Japanese consumption habits are simply different. If there is some health benefit from such a practice, so be it, but few people are obsessed with the health as much as wanting to have a nice meal made of good, simple things.

There aren't a large number of varieties of hijiki in Japan as I recall; just the length is the main differentiating factor. As for konbu, there are a few different varieties, but most of the distinction is based on the age, which affects the suitability of the konbu for soup stock, simply eating, or some combination of the two. The number of varieties has little to do with health considerations.

I think that food magazines, journalists and health books frequently reference studies of associations between foods and diseases in an irresponsible way. The people citing these studies are not scientists and are often unable to recognize that a bell curve may only be shifted in only slightly statistically significant ways before a researcher draws a conclusion. Lay sources then overemphasize these conclusions, leaving out any qualifiers like "may" or "possibly", and make people more poorly informed than they were when they knew nothing.


Edited by JasonTrue (log)

Jason Truesdell

Blog: Pursuing My Passions

Take me to your ryokan, please

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Good, thoughtful response, Jason.

Here's a link to a page about iodine and seaweed from the Vegan Society. It recommends the maximum safe quantities of various forms of seaweed that can be consumed annually.


SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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simmered hijiki last night :biggrin:

with aburage (tofu pockets) and edamame

gallery_6134_1003_16288.jpg

sorry really bad picture...


<p><strong>Kristin Wagner</strong>, aka "torakris"

Manager, Membership

<a class="bbc_email" href="mailto:kwagner@egstaff.org" title="E-mail Link">kwagner@egstaff.org</a></p>

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wakame salad with onions and dressed with a mixture of ponzu and garlic oil

gallery_6134_1960_2689.jpg


<p><strong>Kristin Wagner</strong>, aka "torakris"

Manager, Membership

<a class="bbc_email" href="mailto:kwagner@egstaff.org" title="E-mail Link">kwagner@egstaff.org</a></p>

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Torakris, that looks good! I was just racking my brains for salads that don't require same-day shopping, and which can sit for an hour or two without harm. (Just wait till your kids get older, and you'll understand the need for this kind of recipe!).

Jason, I'm afraid my husband would happily fill a 9" plate with konbu and eat it all up! I've just been cautioned that my oden doesn't contain enough tied konbu strips :shock:

A well-known Japanese food writer advocated separating the New Year konbu rolls into empty rolls of konbu (rolled a bit loosely, so that the broth gets right inside the roll) and chicken wings or drumsticks, cooked together but served separately., since everybody prefers the konbu itself to the usual filling of oversweet preserved herring. This "karappo konbu" dish is a big favorite in my home, though sometimes I roll the konbu around gobo (burdock root) instead of leaving the rolls empty.

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Two nights ago I soaked a little (ok a lot) more wakame than I needed to last night we had a another wakame salad.

This time with tofu and a prepared creamy sesame dressing.

gallery_6134_1960_39336.jpg


<p><strong>Kristin Wagner</strong>, aka "torakris"

Manager, Membership

<a class="bbc_email" href="mailto:kwagner@egstaff.org" title="E-mail Link">kwagner@egstaff.org</a></p>

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I am not sure why my hijiki pictures always turn out so bad.... :hmmm:

gallery_6134_1960_37884.jpg

simmered with satsumage (deep fied fish paste cake) and carrots


<p><strong>Kristin Wagner</strong>, aka "torakris"

Manager, Membership

<a class="bbc_email" href="mailto:kwagner@egstaff.org" title="E-mail Link">kwagner@egstaff.org</a></p>

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mozoku (type of seaweed) in a vinegar dressing (dashi, vinegar, soy sauce and sugar) with kinkan (kumquats) from my garden

gallery_6134_1960_3487.jpg


<p><strong>Kristin Wagner</strong>, aka "torakris"

Manager, Membership

<a class="bbc_email" href="mailto:kwagner@egstaff.org" title="E-mail Link">kwagner@egstaff.org</a></p>

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wakame and nagaimo salad with Korean style seasonings (chile pepper, soy, vinegar and sesame oil)

gallery_6134_1960_24158.jpg


<p><strong>Kristin Wagner</strong>, aka "torakris"

Manager, Membership

<a class="bbc_email" href="mailto:kwagner@egstaff.org" title="E-mail Link">kwagner@egstaff.org</a></p>

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I have been on a wakame kick lately....

wakame and alfalfa sprout salad with sesame dressing (sorry for the blurry picture)

gallery_6134_1960_8048.jpg


<p><strong>Kristin Wagner</strong>, aka "torakris"

Manager, Membership

<a class="bbc_email" href="mailto:kwagner@egstaff.org" title="E-mail Link">kwagner@egstaff.org</a></p>

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Yesterday, I received an order from my favorite on-line source for Japanese foodstuffs. Somehow I managed to order SHIRAKIKU KIZAMI KONBU and I haven't any idea how to use it.

Any help would be appreciated.

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I ahve purchased this a couple times and find it goes well with simmered dishes. Here are some examples:

takikomi gohan (fist one)

simmered with pork

and of course one of my favorite dishes

matsumaezuke


<p><strong>Kristin Wagner</strong>, aka "torakris"

Manager, Membership

<a class="bbc_email" href="mailto:kwagner@egstaff.org" title="E-mail Link">kwagner@egstaff.org</a></p>

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