Mekabu Seaweed (メカブ)

Mekabu seaweed is the thick, folded part of the phyllodes of wakame seaweed (Undaria pinnatifida) that is located above its appressoria. It is the region where generative cells congregate, being equivalent of sporophylls.
Wakame seaweed is seaweed and does not have a root but, in plain terms, mekabu seaweed is also described as the 'roots of wakame seaweed.'

It is used for food in Japan. Since it is slimy and its shape is significantly different from blades, mekabu seaweed is sometimes misunderstood as a part of or a type of sea kelp.


Because mekabu seaweed contains richer viscous components derived from soluble fibers such as alginic acid and fucoidan as well as minerals and unsaturated fatty acids including eicosapentaenoic acid than wakame fronds, it is occasionally consumed as health food but its medical values has yet to be adequately substantiated to date. Mekabu seaweed is used as an ingredient for shampoo, soap and skin care products that are available in the market.

In ancient times, mekabu seaweed was referred to as manakashi (seaweed roots) being prized as a second-best tribute after nori (dried sheets of laver seaweed). After the Medieval Period, the reference to 'manakashi' disappeared from archives but, instead, 'mekabu' began to be mentioned as a product of some regions.
Depending on the region, there are various terms which mekabu seaweed is referred to as including 'mimi,' 'nekabu,' 'kabu,' and 'mehibi.'
Additionally, the dried mekabu seaweed was used as a folk medicine in ancient times.

Mekabu Seaweed For Food

Blanch mekabu seaweed in a pot of boiling water until the color turns from brown to green and transfer the seaweed into a bowl of cold water. The rib may be removed either before or after mekabu seaweed is blanched as it is tough.

After this process, mekabu seaweed will be finely chopped and will be used for food whereby it is mixed with soy sauce, noodle sauce or other condiments and served over the rice or it is added to soup. Mekabu seaweed is sometimes eaten in combination with other viscous foodstuffs such as natto (fermented soybeans), nagaimo (Dioscorea opposite), okra or eggs and, in addition, is occasionally cooked according to recipes developed for those foodstuffs.

In addition to raw mekabu seaweed, it is also possible to get dried mekabu seaweed, which can be prepared quickly, and seasoned mekabu seaweed, which comes in packs.

[Original Japanese]