What is unique about Habanori?

"Seaweed that is the most seaweed"

Navigator: Shui Ishizaka

Shui Ishizaka

Born and raised in Australia, Shui Ishizaka is our culinary virtuoso whose innovative approach to seaweed transforms the ocean's produce into gastronomic masterpieces. His journey to and at Sea Vegetable passes through some of the culinary world’s prestigious kitchens including Tokyo's two-Michelin-starred restaurant INUA and three-Michelin-starred noma’s popup restaurant in Kyoto.

Ishizaka’s philosophy revolves around the narrative of each dish, where the 'why' becomes as important as the 'what'. His work embodies a deep respect for the ingredients’ origins, pairing the known with the unknown. He is a chef who not only envisions a seat for seaweed at the global dining table but also crafts each dish as an invitation to explore, taste, and appreciate the unseen wonders of our oceans.

During my culinary adventure, I find it most intriguing when a certain ingredient doesn't behave or taste like something I expected.

 Discovering such characteristics makes cooking incredibly fascinating and Habanori is a perfect example of this!

 When you taste Habanori, it doesn't remind you of the sea but rather of terrestrial plants. It's like finding a wild edible plant in the mountains rather than a cultivated leafy vegetable.

Habanori has a unique bitterness, much like mountain vegetables, and an unmistakable green aroma that other seaweeds lack. It even has a slight rose-like flavor. This bitterness and green aroma aren't something you need to work hard to remove; they can be enjoyed as they are. 

Among all the seaweeds I've used, Habanori is the least seaweed-like seaweed I ever encountered. This might make it challenging for the average cook, but a truly unique ingredient for those knowledgeable and experienced cooks.

In the culinary world, grassy or green flavors aren’t necessarily negative. They can be used to add complexity to a dish. Even in the wine industry, such descriptors are used. 

I thought about what would pair well with this grassy flavor, and it seemed logical to combine it with ingredients from a grassy environment. That’s how I came up with the idea of combining Habanori with locusts to create Locust Habanori Soy Sauce. I wanted to highlight Habanori’s ‘un-seaweed-like’ quality by pairing it with something you wouldn’t usually associate with seaweed.

The great thing about dried Habanori is that it’s dried at peak freshness, preserving its natural aroma.

To start, you can use it to replace roasted seaweed, like onigiri nori. For those who genuinely enjoy Habanori’s aroma, you can sprinkle it on various dishes as if you are using it like herbs or spices. 

In fact, Habanori pairs well with butter too. Good butter, in my opinion, comes from cows that have been grass-fed. While Habanori has a grassy note, just combining dried Habanori with butter can enhance the flavor of any quality of butter, making it taste better.

Habanori’s aroma can be delicate, but butter acts as a vessel, preserving and enhancing Habanori’s flavor. The texture of Habanori becomes pleasantly soft when it absorbs the butter’s fat. 

Additionally, for those who enjoy sticky foods, Habanori pairs well with other strong flavors, like natto, shiokara, or cilantro.

Japanese people often enjoy intense flavors, so combining Habanori with these foods could make it incredibly delicious for some. Instead of masking Habanori’s unique aroma, I believe we should embrace and enhance its quirks to explore its full potential.

Dried Habanori

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