Seaweed is a super versatile pantry staple and nutritional powerhouse that helps build layers of flavor with notes of earthy mushroom and briny sea. This risotto features a type of dried kelp referred to as wakame in Japanese and miyeok in Korean. It’s an edible seaweed most commonly used to enhance soups, stews, and salads, and its flavor is foundational to many Japanese and Korean dishes. Wakame lends deep savory umami flavor and is a nutrient-dense ingredient packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It’s a completely sustainable food, since it doesn’t require water, soil, fertilizer, or farming, and grows really quickly.
Typically used to infuse soups or add flavor and texture to tofu salads, here the kelp is unexpectedly blitzed into a fine powder that cooks into the risotto, imparting rich ocean-like flavor and vibrant green color (all of the health benefits are an added bonus). The natural gelatinous qualities of wakame result in an extra creamy risotto, while protein-rich clams reinforce the dish with sweet seafood notes and chewy texture. Milky, buttery burrata creates a silky finish and tames the briny sauce.
Try adding a piece of flavor-enhancing wakame to stocks, soups, grains or stewed beans. The powder is a terrific seasoning salt on fish and can also be mixed with softened butter to smear on roasted veggies. Look for wakame that’s thick (which signals deeper flavor), and store in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag in a cool, dry place —kay chun
Test Kitchen Notes
The Green Plate Club is a recipe column by Kay Chun. Each time, she’ll show us how to make a great meal while being a little kinder to the planet—one clever tip, trick, or swap apiece. —The Editors
- Prep time 15 minutes
- Cook time 40 minutes
- Serves 4
(8-ounce) bottles clam juice
1 1/2 pounds
fresh cockles or manila clams (or a mix), scrubbed well
ready-to-use (cut) dried wakame
extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
large shallot, minced
garlic cloves, minced
dried arborio rice
frozen and thawed peas, or shelled fresh garden peas
freshly squeezed lemon juice
freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
chopped chives, plus more for garnish
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- In a medium saucepan over medium-high, combine clam juice and 5 cups of water and bring to a simmer. Add cockles, cover and cook until they open, 1 to 2 minutes, transferring them to a small bowl as they open. Strain broth through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any grit and return to the cleaned saucepan. Keep broth hot over low heat.
- Meanwhile, using a spice grinder and working in batches, grind wakame into a fine powder (you’ll have a heaping 2 tablespoons). A little patience is required here; occasionally shake the grinder or stir the mixture to loosen bits of wakame from the blade. After 1 to 2 minutes, a fine powder will gradually form.
- Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 2 minutes. Stir in garlic until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add rice and stir until coated in oil and translucent around the edges, 1 to 2 minutes, then stir in kombu powder until well blended. Add 1 cup of clam broth and simmer briskly, stirring frequently, until liquid has been absorbed (about 3 minutes). Continue simmering and adding hot broth, 1 cup at a time, stirring frequently and allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding the next, until rice is almost al dente and 1 cup of broth is left, 18 to 20 minutes.
- While risotto cooks, remove cockles from shells and return them to the bowl; leave 12 cockles in their shells for garnish. Discard shells.
- Add peas and remaining broth to risotto and cook, stirring, until rice is al dente and risotto is saucy, about 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat and stir in shelled cockles, butter, lemon juice, Parmesan and chives. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Divide risotto in 4 bowls and swirl in one-quarter of the burrata into each bowl. Garnish risotto with the whole cockles, chives and black pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and serve warm.