Healthy delicious, Wakame Salad is Japan's super popular seaweed salad. This wakame salad recipe is quick and easy to make at home and is the perfect side for your next Japanese inspired lunch or dinner. You’ll love this Japanese seaweed salad!
Dried seaweed is transformed into a flavorful salad in no time at all. And it goes perfectly with sesame seeds. Wakame salad is a fresh and healthy seaweed salad loved all over Japan.
I love this wakame seaweed salad and have done since I was a kid. My mother made it for us all the time, and I learnt this recipe from her. There’s nothing complicated about this wakame seaweed salad recipe. Just cut the ingredients into bite sizes and mix them up with an umami rich sesame dressing!
Wakame is a highly nutritious edible seaweed. If it's unfamiliar to you, I'll show you how to use dried wakame step-by-step. You can also make it with salted fresh wakame but it’s a little harder to find. If you do, no problem, I'll show you how to make delicious wakame seaweed salad with it!
Discover Japan's most famous seaweed salad today. Simply follow the recipe. Bring joy into your life and share it with loved ones. Read on!
What is wakame salad?
Japanese seaweed salad is often made with wakame. Wakame salad is made of thin seaweed with chopped vegetables. Sesame seeds and a splash of toasted sesame oil are the perfect enhancer for the ponzu (soy and yuzu sauce) based wakame salad dressing.
Wakame salad tastes like a fresh, salty and slightly sweet salad with lots of crunch and texture. It's super moreish and goes with just about anything but is often served as appetizer at Japanese restaurants.
There are various ways to enjoy wakame, but I love it most with sesame seeds (goma in Japanese). Wakame and sesame seeds salad is called goma wakame in Japan.
Is Japanese wakame salad healthy?
Yes! Wakame is full of minerals and fiber. Every kid in Japan grows up being fed wakame, and they love it! It’s a great tasty and healthy dish for everyone - low in calories but rich in nutrients. (source) This seaweed salad recipe, made with wakame, is simply delicious!
Ingredients for seaweed salad
What is wakame?
Wakame is often used for miso soup, sunomono, salad or as an appetizer. It's also great to add it to Japanese cucumber salad. Wakame is a type of algae, and has been farmed since the 8th century in Japan. (source) Wakame has two types - one is dried, and the other is salted.
Dried wakame is super handy to have in your cupboard. Perfect for dropping into soup, or whipping up a tasty and healthy salad. It requires minimal preparation.
Salted wakame is my favourite. The texture is softer and the flavour is stronger than dried wakame.
Where to find wakame
Japanese, Asian or health food shops is where you can get dried seaweed wakame! These days it can also often be found in the soy sauce, nori (seaweed for rolled sushi) or miso section at supermarkets.
Find the fridge section at Japanese or Asian shops. That's where to buy salted wakame seaweed.
Instead of using regular soy sauce, I love this wakame salad with Japan's other super ingredient – ponzu. It's a citrus and soy based sauce with an umami rich flavour. Ponzu can be used with almost any savory dish and is great to have in your cupboard.
I use toasted sesame seeds and ground them with a mortar and pestle at home. Toasted sesame seeds form a critical part of the dressing, elevating the flavour to the next level. They can be easily toasted at home too (find my recipe for how to toast them in the recipe card). If you don't have a mortar and pestle, buy ground sesame seeds at a shop.
Toasted sesame oil is best for this recipe. It’s a rich light brown in colour, while non-toasted sesame seeds oil is yellow. Toasted sesame oil is more flavorful and nutty.
How to Make Wakame Salad
This Japanese seaweed wakame salad is super simple to make! You cut vegetables nicely, and dehydrate dried wakame. Then mix them up with the sesame dressing. I’ll show a few tips to elevate this wakame salad to the next level. Let's get started!
Making a sesame dressing
Combine the ponzu, sugar, ground sesame, ginger and sesame oil with a whisk. Allow salt and sugar dissolve. I like to make it a bit before time and place it in the fridge to enjoy for a fresh cool salad in summer.
Try a simple Japanese cooking technique, shiomomi, with cucumber. This little preparation is used for various vegetable dishes and can remove the bitterness out of the skin.
Rub a cucumber with a pinch of salt by hand. The skin becomes moisturized. Remove it with running water and dry with a kitchen towel. That's it!
How to make wakame salad from dried wakame
Dried wakame becomes ten to twelve times larger when it absorbs water. Simply soak dried wakame with a generous amount of water in a bowl.
I recommend soaking it in water for five minutes, but no longer, otherwise it loses its nutrition.
How to make wakame salad from fresh wakame
Salted fresh wakame becomes three times larger after it is soaked in water. Place the salted wakame in a small bowl. Add water and drain it by hand. Repeat this one more time.
Then soak wakame in water for 5 minutes. It's optional but pour a cup of boiled water over the wakame in a sieve.
Place wakame, sliced cucumbers and tomatos in a salad bowl. Pour the sesame dressing over the ingredients, and combine all the ingredients with a fork or chopsticks.
Place wakame, sliced cucumbers and tomatoes in a salad bowl. Pour the sesame dressing over the ingredients, and combine all the ingredients with a fork or chopsticks.
That's it! Serve immediately, and enjoy!
How long does wakame salad last
This wakame salad should be enjoyed fresh, and can last until the next day (although tomato may soften a bit). The wakame salad dressing can be kept for a week in the fridge.
How to eat wakame salad
For hot summer, my favourite way to eat this Japanese seaweed wakame salad is to keep all the ingredients in the fridge and pour the dressing over the vegetables just before serving.
It's super refreshing and perfect, especially when the heat is high. I enjoy it in summer! Of course, this Japanese seaweed wakame salad is so versatile and healthy delicious throughout the year.
Is wakame salad gluten free?
Yes. Our wakame salad is gluten-free. Make sure you use gluten-free ponzu from the shop. Or you can make it easily with gluten-free soy sauce at home. I've attached the ponzu sauce recipe link in the recipe card below. This wakame salad is also vegan friendly.
More flavorful Japanese salad
Vegetable and seaweed
- 1 tomato (200g)
- 1 cucumber (150g)
- 2 tablespoons dried wakame (5g, or 30g of salted wakame)
- 2 tablespoons ponzu (30ml: or homemade ponzu sauce)
Wakame salad dressing
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (9g: or toast sesame seeds at home)
- 2 teaspoons sugar (any sugar, I use cane sugar)
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
Wakame salad dressing
- Combine all the ingredients with a whisk in a small ball. Ensure salt and sugar dissolves completely.
Vegetables & seaweed
- Soak dried wakame in a generous amount of water in a medium sized bowl and let them hydrate. Or if it's salted fresh wakame, drain water twice and soak it in water for five minutes. Don’t soak them for more than five minutes. (note 1)
- Rub cucumber with a pinch of sea salt until moisture appears on the surface. Remove the moisture with running water, and dry the cucumber with a kitchen towel. (note 2)
- Cut off the head and the end of the cucumber. Slice cucumbers with a slicer or a knife.
- Cut tomato into cubes.
- Add all the vegetable and wakame into a medium size bowl. Pour the dressing over them and mix everything together thoroughly. That's it! Serve immediately. Enjoy!
- If you soak wakame for more than five minutes, it’ll lose its nutrients. It's optional but pour a cup of boiled water over the wakame in a sieve.
- This simple cooking technique is called shiomomi in Japanese. It's used for various vegetable dishes and helps to remove the bitterness hidden under the vegetable skin.
- This wakame salad can be enjoyed straight away. It can be saved next day although the tomato becomes softer. The wakame salad dressing can be saved for a week in the fridge.