The decadence of the holidays coupled with two weeks of vacation has taken a toll on my palette and appetite. Although there is a definite lack of cream and butter-heavy dishes here in the Southern Hemisphere, the oil and fat of barbecued meats and deep-fried delights had me gravitating towards recipes that were light, clean and nourishing. I have been a long-time glutton for the bright green seaweed salads sold at most take-away sushi shops. This version uses reconstituted wakame seaweed, deep green, salty and earthy. The smallest slick of sesame oil cuts through the rice wine vinegar and fresh lemon juice. The brightness of the acid is balanced with the rich umami flavour of the soy sauce and the subtle heat of the dried chili. To welcome the New Year and revitalise an overwhelmed palette wakame seaweed salad just might become an annual tradition.

Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳), Toto meisho 東都名所 (Famous Places in Edo) / Omori 大森1830-35, woodblock printed by Kagaya Kichibel (加賀屋), 25.4 x 36.7 cm, The British Museum

Utagawa Kuniyoshi, master of the ukiyo-e style of painting, was guided by elements of Western art including elements of landscape painting and the caricature. Ukiyo-e is a specific genre that combines elements of landscape painting and history with theatrics to produce scenes of a fleeting world, full of pleasure and beauty. Kuniyoshi was the son of a silk-dyer and may have appropriated techniques learned while pattern making into his work. His prints were characterised by a bold use of colour giving the typically flat planes of colour texture and depth. His notable series Famous views of the Eastern capital, which the print above is from, features typical scenes around Edo, including two women gathering seaweed at Omori. Katsushika Hokusai and more specifically, his series Thirty-Six views of Mount Fuji influenced the woodblock prints.

{Wakame Seaweed Salad}

serves 6

50 g dried wakame seaweed
4TB rice wine vinegar
2 TB sesame oil
1 TB honey
juice of ½ lemon
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp dried chili
¼ c sesame seeds

Rehydrate the wakame seaweed as per package instructions. In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and mix well. Once the seaweed has been reconstituted, toss with dressing and let sit at least 30 minutes before serving. Will keep up to a week in the refrigerator.