BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked

The New Sea Food

12 Comments

Take the salmon out of lomi salmon and what do you have? No, this isn’t a riddle, but a valid culinary question. Such a simple dish, hardly one that even requires a recipe, is tough to mess around with too much without accidentally chopping out its soul. Many an intrepid explorer, set on a mission of kitchen conquest, has pushed a simple, fool-proof concept far beyond its reasonable constraints- Myself included. How do you change something so radically and still be able to connect it back to the original dish? Sure, it will be tasty and satisfying, but you can hardly call a sandwich without peanut butter or jelly a PB & J, can you?

No matter how solidly set in stone some recipes may seem, there is always room for fresh interpretation. While wintering in Hawaii, there were plenty of opportunities to experiment with local ingredients and draw inspiration from the native cuisine. Lomi lomi salmon is about as classic Hawaiian as it gets, a staple found at any Luau worth its coconuts. Little more than salted salmon massaged with chopped tomatoes and onions, it compliments the starchier sides with its bright, salty flavors. Though it would seem impossible to veganize at first blush, the islands provide a natural alternative to any fishy components: Sea Asparagus.

Also known as samphire or glasswort, this sea vegetable is a tender green stalk very similar in appearance to tiny land-grown asparagus- Thus the obvious name. Absorbing the sea salt like a sponge, they can be quite salty if not thoroughly rinsed, and should never be salted no matter what you add to them. Slightly crunchy when raw or par-cooked, they’re an exotic delight to someone accustomed to flat, gelatinous, or stringy sea vegetables like myself. They grow all over the world and can usually be found in gourmet markets, but naturally, they’re cultivated right in the heart of Hawaii, making them more accessible to the city dwellers of Honolulu than most.

This recipe isn’t my entirely own creation, but inspired by the serving suggestion printed on the very label for Olakai sea asparagus. The only farm on Oahu growing these spindly green stalks, they know better than anyone else on the island how to best honor this unique ingredient. I’ve only put a few small twists on their basic formula, making use of more local produce such as the adorable tiny currant tomatoes from Ho Farms and sweet Maui onions. The precise combination is one that I may not be able to repeat for quite some time, but as long as I can find sea asparagus, you can be sure that this salad will find its way to my table.

Lomi Sea Asparagus

4 Ounces Fresh Sea Asparagus
1 Ounce Sweet Onion, Diced
1 Tablespoon Avocado or Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
4 Ounces Currant Tomatoes (or Halved Cherry Tomatoes)

Snip off any brown ends on the sea asparagus before rinsing them thoroughly under hot water. Toss them in a bowl along with the diced onion, oil, and lemon juice. Massage the vegetables with your fingers for a minute or two, just to tenderize the stalks slightly. Add in the tomatoes, mix to distribute throughout the salad, and either chill for up to two days, or serve right away. Don’t be tempted to add any salt, since the sea asparagus are already packed full of sodium.

Makes 2 – 3 Side Dish Servings

Printable Recipe

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Author: Hannah Kaminsky

Author of My Sweet Vegan, Vegan Desserts, Vegan a la Mode, and Easy as Vegan Pie.

12 thoughts on “The New Sea Food

  1. I’m thoroughly convinced you’re a genius! Not sure if you got my email the 1st of June since you’ve been having email issues, but send me your phone number and we can plan for next month (or early August)!

  2. Yum! I think this ingredient is also the same as sea beans or pickleweed, too? This combination sounds really delicious. I was able to find sea beans recently at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. I may have to try this next time I pick some up! Thanks for posting.

    • Oh yes, you’re right! It has so many nicknames that I tend to forget at least one or two. I didn’t realize that it was being sold at the Ferry Building farmers market though… Thanks for the hot tip! I’ll try to wake up extra-early to hit it tomorrow. ;)

  3. I just wondering how to prepare this sea food/ plant, every time I walk in Morrisons. You got the answer now, thanks! :)

  4. I love samphire a lot! I had it also in my wedding menu in a one starred Michelin restaurant here in Belgium! :)

  5. Oh yum, I think that I would absolutely love this dish.

  6. Very interesting and we have samphire here :) The problem is, we tend to be walking Earl at the beach whenever I notice it and Earl is WAY out the front of us on a long lead and by the time we get to the samphire it tends to be “soggy” if you get my drift and I suddenly don’t feel like harvesting it OR eating it any more ;)

  7. So clever, Hannah! You are a star!

  8. You’re totally right..no recipe is set in stone and always open for interpretation.. And sometimes, the result is as good or even better than the original.

    I’ve tried samphire when I was in UK in a seafood dish. It really taste of the sea and I think they are really great! It’s lovely how you incorporated it in this salad. And lucky you that you can get it easily! Would love to have some samphire to play with.

  9. This looks amazing! We don’t have sea asparagus here but maybe I can substitute with some seaweed and make it work! Yum…

  10. I’ve got a lot of time for samphire – delicious. The only time it went wrong was with an unfortunate attempt to freeze it – not to be repeated!

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