West Coast Wakame, or Alaria marginata, is a type of edible seaweed that grows along the West Coast of the US. Also called Winged Kelp or Ribbon Kelp, its natural habitat ranges from Central California to Alaska. One of the most popular types of sea vegetables, wakame is widely used in soups, seaweed salads, and as a side dish.
All kelps are types of brown seaweeds, one of three main groups of algae. Alaria is a genus of kelp that is being cultivated on both the East and West coast of the US. While there are a few other types of kelp being farmed (Sugar Kelp, Bull Kelp, etc) we think Alaria has the most balanced, tender, nutty flavor and we love using it as the base for our line of seaweed flakes, salts, and seasonings!
Characterized by a central rib down its midline (like the stem on a piece of kale), each blade of kelp can grow up to 9 feet! Alaria marginata's common name - Winged Kelp - refers to the reproductive "sporophylls" at the base of the blade that look like wings.
What Does Wakame taste like?
Like most sea vegetables, wakame has a briny, salty taste. Wakame contains glutamates, the ionic form of glumatic acid. In 1907 in Japan, Professor Ikeda found that glutamate had a distinctive taste, different from sweet, sour, bitter, and salty that he coined "umami". This savory taste helps blend the flavors in a dish and provides a depth of flavor that is larger than the sum of its parts. That's one of the reasons we love using West Coast Wakame in seasonings and spice blends.
Health Benefits of Wakame
Wakame, like all sea vegetables, is a healthy choice because of its nutrient content. High in iodine and fiber, West Coast Wakame and other kelps offer essential nutrients that can be hard to find in a plant-based diet. Seaweeds contain omega-3 fatty acids and compounds like fucoidan, which has been shown to have anti-oxidative and anti-tumor properties.
Whole leaf Wakame can be reconstituted before using by soaking in a bowl with warm water, until the piece of seaweed is re-hydrated. Once reconstituted, wakame can be used like a vegetable: chopped and added to soups, stir frys, or blended into a sauce or dressing. Miso soup is well known for having pieces of wakame seaweed alongside diced tofu, minced scallions, and the savory miso broth. Wakame makes a great seaweed salad, by simply dressing the re-hydrated kelp and chopping finely. Checkout our recipe page for more ideas!
Wakame can also be toasted until crispy, then crumbled on dishes as a garnish or eaten like a potato chip! Toasted Wakame makes a great snack, because it is salty, savory, and full of vitamins and minerals!
How to Cook with Wakame
Our seaweed seasonings are the perfect answer to the question of how to cook with wakame. Easy to use, formulated for flavor, and packed with nutrients, our line of Daybreak Seaweed seasonings are meant to be sprinkled on all of your favorite dishes! You can sprinkle Organic Seaweed Seasoning anywhere you use salt! We love Wakame on scrambled eggs, popcorn, avocado toast, rice bowls, baked into bread dough, sprinkled on cookies and brownies in place of flaky sea salt, and blended into smoothies.
Where Our Wakame Comes From
Our West Coast Wakame is grown on regenerative ocean farms in Alaska. We are fortunate to work with a handful of family farms that cultivate, grow and harvest West Coast Wakame in pristine, cold, nutrient-rich waters up and down the coast of Alaska.