How spoilt I am here in Spain by the seaside! And I am totally following Spanish eating habits and lifestyle — get up in the morning, having light breakfast, then go down to swim in the sea; come back for lunch, my mother-in-law already prepared some typical Spanish rice or soup dish, which have all become my favorite these years; then siesta; then get up for merienda (snack after getting up from the nap); go to the town centre for a walk — culture absorption; then dinner, followed by ‘after dinner walk’, then sleep with the sounds of the waves from the sea… Can life be more relaxing and more beautiful?
I remember when I was young, when holiday came, the teachers (and my dad) would give me a long reading list, I was buried with the books, text books and home works. Now, we all grow up, no need to be given reading list anymore, but in China, with the rapid changes in the city, in the life, like my friend, who now works in Shanghai, once said, ‘the scenery around us, and the lives we have here change too quickly, we need to keep up by putting head down and working hard and harder, don’t have time to slow down to think about we have done, or what the life is about, or to enjoy it…” — Sad, but true.
—-And, here I am, almost feel guilty for not doing anything. I tell my mother-in-law, ‘I am not doing anything’, she smiles and replies, ‘good, no? You just need to relax!’ Thanks to them, I learn to appreciate the sun, the sea, the food, the life, each breath, and each vision, like never before. I think I also learned to be satisfied, even for small things, and to be positive and happy.
One of the great benefits of being by the seaside is to enjoy all the health benefits from sea water, such as iodine intake.
Among all sea plants, I especially like seaweed (this particular one in English is known as Kombu or kelp . I really like its Chinese name – hai dai , as sea belt, because its shape is like a belt, well, a big, wide belt. :)
I did not know that this “sea belt” mainly grows in the waters of Russia, Japan, Korea and China, until I checked up online. Seaweed has always been a very common ingredient in Northern Chinese cuisine , and it is especially used in Chinese salads (liang cai).
In England, I normally buy this kind of seaweed in Chinese, Korean or Japanese supermarkets.
It is different to what we normally called “seaweed”, which it is sold as fried / crispy in Chinese or Korean restaurants. This seaweed looks like a big green leaf, but much bigger, and its texture is somewhere in-between rubber and green leaves — no, I am running out of words to explain— sorry. :) Its surface is a bit sticky. It is normally very cheap to buy, and after soaking, it turns into quite a big portion, so one package can make into a few plates. It is normally sold dry, you have to soak it in the water for a while, then it can be cooked as salad, stir-fried or soups.
This type of seaweed if considered to be very healthy and useful, and it is good to have it often, however, you need to be careful not take too much, since it contains high level of iodine, it might disturb your thyroid function.
The Recipe: Chinese Seaweed Salad
Here is one of the simplest ways of preparing Chinese seaweed — a salad dish, good for the summer and for boosting your energy, especially if you are far away from the sea.
Seaweed (kombu) (I used the seaweed as the main ingredients, and added in a little bit shredded carrots, but it can be mixed with other things as well, for example, dried beancurd sheet, and fried salted peanuts.)
Salt, sesame oil, sugar, light soy sauce, vinegar, garlic.
Preparing Seaweed Salad
1) Soak and chop 2 leaves of seaweed into thin strips.
2) Chop 5 (or more) gloves of garlic.
3) Shred one carrot.
Mixing the ingredients
Mix chopped seaweed, garlic and carrot all together, and add 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 2 tablespoon of vinegar, 2 tablespoon of light soy sauce, and around 3 tablespoons of sesame oil, mix everything together —
Serve as a salad/ liang cai dish, or a small side dish, it can be kept in the fridge for a few days if there is enough salt, and well covered for it not to get dry.
It is good to go with rice or beer, or as a side dish with steamed bread, dumplings, noodles. :)