If you’re an onion lover as I am, you probably love the pungent crispness of raw onions. Some varieties, like the Vidalia and Maui, are so sweet and mild that we used to slice them into wedges, dip them into Alae sea salt (a coarse salt with minerals from the red clay in the Pacific Islands) and eat them as an appetizer.
It isn’t always easy to get sweet onions. But even the brown onion can be made sweeter with a good soak in water or milk. My daughter makes wonderful onion rings with large slices. She soaks the raw onions in milk for at least 30 minutes to draw out the bitter compounds. Water will achieve the same effect without any milky residue. I once worked at an Italian restaurant where the chef would peel and soak whole onions in water overnight to use for the next day’s service. The onions were not water-logged as I expected but still crisp. And by the way, when choosing onions, pick larger ones. Bigger onions tend to be sweeter.
Wakame is an edible sea vegetable with reported health benefits from fat burning to blood purification. Other mineral content includes calcium, iodine, niacin. thiamine and omega 3 fatty acids. It comes dried in packages and require a brief soak in water to reconstitute. Then, it is eaten in soups, salads and pickled condiments. You probably recognize small bits of green wakame in miso soup or sunomono appetizers served at Japanese restaurants. If you’d like to add more authenticity and nutrition into your dishes at home, add some wakame to your miso soup or to tofu or cucumber salads.
Here is a delicious salad combination featuring sweet onions and wakame with a light miso dressing.
Sweet Onion Wakame Salad
1 large Vidalia onion
¾ cup dried wakame
2 Tbsp. shiro miso paste
3 Tbsp. dashi or water
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
½ tsp. toasted sesame seeds
thinly sliced shiso leaves, for garnish
In a large bowl, soak wakame in cool water until reconstituted. Wash, peel and slice onion in half. Then, slice into thin (1/16th inch) slices. Soak sliced onions in cold water for 30 minutes. Using a cheesecloth, drain and squeeze out as much water as possible. Drain wakame and toss with sliced onions.
In a separate bowl, blend together the miso paste, dashi or water, sugar and lemon juice. To serve, arrange sliced onions and wakame mixture onto a serving plate. Top with dressing. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Garnish with slivered shiso leaves.