Honu Sea Vegetable Salad 2

Summer always makes me think of the Hawaiian Sea Turtles (Honu) frolicing in the warm ocean waters.

Young sea turtles are carnivorous, often eating jellyfish and other small invertebrates. Once they mature, however, they become herbivores and eat mainly algae and sea grasses.

Until a few years ago, I loved ordering and eating seaweed salad in restaurants– until I realized they were all factory made, and contained artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. It’s the same undesirable stuff you can buy in tubs from Asian grocery stores too.

The good news is- it’s pretty easy to make your own.
Assorted dried sea vegetables (seaweed)
Try to find a good, clean source of highly nutritious sea vegetables (a.k.a seaweed) from your nearest coastline.

After the 2011 catastrophic earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster in Japan, many of us are concerned about radioactive fallout in the pacific ocean.

Rising Tide Sea Vegetables is one of a handful of companies that tests their products for radioactivity. Their testing is done by UC Berkeley’s Department of Nuclear Engineering. According to Rising Tide’s website, the 2013 harvest (which is sold through 2014) had no radioactive isotopes from Fukushima detected.

Cooked sea vegetables (seaweed)

Many brands’ package directions tell you to just soak the seaweed for 10 minutes to a couple of hours. If you like your seaweed really chewy, then that’s okay, but I like mine tender. Best thing to do after soaking the seaweed is to test a bite and see if it is soft enough for you.

I boil mine until it is tender and easy to bite through. I soaked these for 30 minutes, brought them to a boil in a pot of water, then simmered them for a good 30-45 minutes, removing softer pieces first.

You can save the water to add to soups, or to soak beans in.
Cut cabbage, swiss chard and green beans

Cut Green Cabbage, Swiss Chard, and Green Beans

Other lightly steamed vegetables can also be added.

This is good especially if you want to introduce sea vegetables to those not familiar with them, and/or to bulk up the salad, as sea vegetables can be a bit pricey.
Sea vegetable salad, top view

Sea Vegetables with Steamed Green Cabbage

Cut the sea vegetables into bite sized pieces and mix with the other steamed veggies.

Toss with a mixture of soy sauce, maple syrup, rice vinegar and sesame oil. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.
Cooked green beans and swiss chard

The red stems of the swiss chard and the julienned strips of green bean can help mimic the look of sea vegetables well.

If you don’t have access to sea vegetables, you could make a mock version just using the cabbage, swiss chard and green beans.

Before steaming, cut the cabbage and chard into small squares, and julienne the green beans.

Honu Sea Vegetable Salad 1
We like it with all the extra vegetables added.

Delicious served chilled on a hot summer day. Make it a picnic with some musubi (smoked salmon, party, or ume) on the side.

Though in cold weather this is pretty tasty served freshly- made warm, with a little bowl of rice.

Don’t forget to scatter a few steamed carrot flowers over the top ~ can’t think of Hawaii without thinking of pretty flowers too!

Honu Sea Vegetable Salad
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Delicious served warm or chilled
Recipe type: Side
Serves: 8
  • ½ oz. dried sea vegetables (like kombu, sea palm, wakame)
  • 2 c. green cabbage, cut into 1" squares
  • ¾ c. julienned green beans
  • 2 c. swiss chard, cut into 1" squares
  • ¼ c. soy sauce
  • 2 T. maple syrup
  • 1 T. rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • Steamed diagonally sliced carrots, ¼" thick
  1. Prepare sea vegetables according to package directions. If not tender enough, bring to a boil in a pot of water, then simmer until desired tenderness. Drain.
  2. Steam cabbage, swiss chard and green beans separately until each is just tender. Drain.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together soy sauce, maple syrup, vinegar and sesame oil. Add all the vegetables and toss to mix. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Press small (1/2" to ¾") flower shaped cutters into the steamed carrot slices to make flowers. Scatter the flowers over the top.
  4. Chill salad for a couple of hours before serving.
  5. (In cooler weather, this is also good served warm as a side vegetable dish.)