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The Surprising Sea Bean

The sea bean (salicornia) is a prehistoric plant found in various swampy locales like sea marches, in mangroves and on the beach. I think this may be the most surprising item currently on the to-table.com site due to its succulent and briny taste that crunch and explode in the mouth with authority but without overpowering. It lends itself to recipes both as the main attraction as in salads and other vegetable dishes or a great accompaniment to fish and shell fish.

I made 22 people the subject of a sea bean experiment with exceptional results. A salad with cucumbers, daikon radishes and sea beans with an Asian bent (dressing of sesame oil, sweet rice wine and vinegar, and tamari) was enthusiastically received. While I can offer no data for or against the nutritional benefits of the sea bean, I was reminded of the old Life Cereal advertisement with Mikey when all of the 22 diners asked how something so good for you can taste so good. Here is the Recipe from Epicurious ( P.F. CHANG'S OCTOBER 2013)

INGREDIENTS

    • 2 large cucumbers, peeled (about 1 1/2 pounds)
    • 1 large daikon radish, peeled or try Watermelon Radish for more color
    • 4 scallions
    • 1/2 pound sea beans, ends trimmed Find To-Table Sean Beans here
    • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons canola oil
    • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
    • 2 tablespoons tamari
    • 2 teaspoons black sesame seeds
    • 2 teaspoons white sesame seeds
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • 2 fresh shiso leaves, finely chopped Find at To-Table here

PREPARATION

    1. 1. Cut the flesh of the cucumber into very thin noodle-like strips. Avoid the seeds by not cutting the very center of the cucumber. A mandoline works best, or use a knife and slice really thin.
    2. 2. Cut the daikon into the same thin noodle-like strips. Here there are no seeds, so you can cut through the entire vegetable.
    3. 3. Trim the roots of the scallions, then slice them into fine rings. Start at the white bottom and use about three-quarters of each scallion, until the leaves become much darker green and thicker.
    4. 4. Combine the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl to ensure they are well mixed, then add all of the vegetables. Toss to combine, then cover and place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 30 minutes, but no longer than 24 hours or they will get mushy. Serve chilled.

Check out these other recipes for the many ways to prepare and use sea beans. And let us know what other fabulous ways you find to prepare and enjoy them.

 

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