Dried Kawatake

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Dried Kawatake

Dried kawatake is a product made from suizennjinori (Aphanothece sacrum), a dark green, freshwater seaweed. The thin dried sheets are made following a handmade method dating back to the Edo period (over 300 years ago). Hand harvested suizennjinori is cleaned and then salted for five hours. It is rinsed in a river and inspected. Those selected are sold raw or cured. Those not selected are placed back into the river. To dry the algae, it is ground and placed on an unglazed roofing tie, and stretched a wooden frame to shape it and remove air bubbles. Once shaped, the frame is removed and the seaweed dries naturally into a piece one millimeter thick.

Kawatake is used in many traditional Japanese dishes, including kaiseki ryouri, cha kaiseki and shojin ryori. It can also be used in soups and salads and with raw fish. The raw kawatake has a jelly-like texture. The dried kawatake has little scent or taste, but is used to add color and texture to dishes. Kawatake is difficult to breed or cultivate, so it is necessary to maintain the environment by cleaning the Kogane River. It is harvested from winter to early summer, and dried from spring to summer, but it can be found for sale year round. Production has steadily decreased over the years, down from 200 tons in 1988 to 20 tons in 2014. Due to a dam constructed in the late 1970s, the river flow has decreased, and so this traditional, wild-harvested product is now at risk of being lost.

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Production area:Yanagawa town in Asakura City, Fukuoka Prefecture

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Nominated by:Yoko Kurokawa