Cooking with Sea Beans / by Anne

whitesalmoneditAfter a couple of happy experiments with sea beans this week, I think we have a winner.  When I go to Ballard Farmers’ Market this Sunday, I’ll definitely stop back by the Foraged and Found Edibles booth in search of sea beans.   So if you find yourself at that booth too, staring at those funky-looking stems, listening to people murmer "Sea Beans..." quizzically aloud to themselves as they pass, and you're wondering whether to try them or not, you could consider these ideas for starters. 

First, they perked up a regular old tuna salad.  In the salad, the sea beans provided salt and a compelling crunch.  That crunch compelled me, actually, to keep adding more of them to the salad as I ate it, so you might find that ¼ cup from the recipe below is not enough for you, either.  I was surprised that while the sea beans have a distinctive taste on their own, once in the salad they did not command attention—rather they seemed to enhance the flavor of the tuna like good backup singers.  For the tuna salad magic alone I want to keep buying sea beans. 

 

Tuna Salad with Sea Beans

Tuna salad lovers often have their own favorite versions.  Here is a simple version that I used to give the sea beans a chance to have a say-so in the flavors, although they were subtler than I expected.

Ingredients

  • 1 can of tuna packed in oil (preferably olive oil)
  • 2-3 T of mayonnaise
  • 2 stalks celery, diced finely
  • 3 T minced sweet onion
  • A few turns of ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup rinsed and chopped sea beans

Directions 

  1. Pour the whole can of tuna, oil and all, into a medium mixing bowl.  Begin flaking tuna with a fork, then add mayonnaise and continue to flake tuna to get a fine texture.  
  2. Add celery, onion, pepper, and sea beans. 
  3. Enjoy with crackers or on a sandwich.

Serves 2. 

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This week I also tried sea beans in a salmon dish, which was another hit, although I have to say it was a bit lacking in color.  Isn’t it a bummer when something delicious doesn’t look very pretty?  Well, I’ll take delicious any day. For color, though, this might shine next to some sliced fresh tomatoes, as soon as tomatoes start coming this summer.   By the way, if you cannot get sea beans, this dish would still taste lovely all on its own.  However, they add texture and a satisfying crunch, as well as hints of salty seaside. 

Seaside White Salmon

Marinade Ingredients (modified from The Bride & Grooom First and Forever Cookbook):

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 3 T fresh rosemary or other herbs of your choice (rosemary stands up to cooking, though)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Half of an onion

Main Ingredients

  • 1 lb white salmon
  • 2 medium red potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 large fennel bulb
  • 1 cup sea beans

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425˚.
  2. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Puree until smooth.  Place the fish into a shallow dish and pour marinade over it. Let it rest on the counter for 20-30 minutes. 
  3. While the fish is marinating, chop the onion and the fennel, and slice the potatoes paper-thin.  Using a mandoline is helpful here but not necessary. 
  4. Combine the onion and fennel at the bottom of a baking dish that will later easily accommodate the salmon.  Then arrange the potatoes in a layer over the onion and fennel, overlapping the slices, if necessary. 
  5. Place salmon on top of the potatoes, and spoon most of the marinade over the fish and the potatoes. 
  6. Cover tightly, and cook for 30 minutes.
  7. While salmon is cooking, rinse sea beans and chop them coarsely.
  8. After removing the dish from the oven, lift salmon from the bed of vegetables, transfer it to a cutting board, and slice it into 4 pieces.
  9. Gently mix the sea beans with the vegetables and sauce.
  10. To serve, place a few large spoonfuls of the vegetables and sauce on a plate, and place salmon atop the bed.   

 Serves 4.