We're deep in Wakame season right now. Lot’s of diving (in pretty shallow water), harvesting, rinsing, drying and packing.
Wakame (Undaria pinnatifida) is an introduced and invasive kelp species here in Australia. It’s said to have made its way here from Japan in a ship’s bilge sometime in the 1980’s. Back when Bob Hawke was steering the boat (different boat). Anyway it’s a fast growing kelp that unfortunately crowds-out our native kelp species like Golden kelp (Ecklonia radiata).
Golden kelp has been copping it in recent decades after dredging activities, invasive sea urchins and sea temp rising. So before Wakame releases its millions of spore (yep, from each plant each year) we remove it with the help of a sharp knife. The good part is that although it's invasive, it's still kelp and happens to be incredibly healthy for humans and tastes delicious in a wide array of dishes. In fact chefs are telling us it has more flavour the the imported Wakame they've used until now.
Once dried, we sort the top blades of the plant into bags as Dried Wakame and we put the rest of the plant including the mekabu (reproductive part) through the hammer mill and then into our Furikake sprinkle. From start to to finish it’s a most labour intensive process but we're gradually improving efficiencies as we go.
If you haven't cooked with Wakame yet take a look at our recipes page, including the new Wakame Salad recipe by chef David Moyle. It's a winner.