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Kelp noodle and broccoli slaw

2013 March 11


When I first tasted kelp noodles — at, of all places, a salad bar in a corporate cafeteria — it was love at first bite.

They’re delicate and crunchy, with a surprising neutral taste that, instead, soaks up the flavors of other ingredients. Thin, translucent, and somehow sparkly, kelp noodles are an intriguing addition to salads, soups, and slaws.

My neighborhood is sadly bereft of ethnic markets, except for a crazy, independent mega store that recently opened near me and carries just about anything a cook’s heart could possibly desire, including these kelp noodles. (If you’re ever in Cincinnati, you must visit Jungle Jim’s. There’s an entire room devoted to hot sauces, and another to olives. The produce department alone is a comprehensive education in the world’s fruit and vegetables. Whodda thunk you could find fresh galangal in a Cincinnati market?) Whole Foods might carry kelp noodles as well, and I imagine they’re a staple in Asian markets.


Look how beautiful — like strands of crystals. Only the sea could produce such a gorgeous, exotic vegetable.



Kelp noodles are considered to be a super food, as they contain high concentrations of iodine, potassium, magnesium, iron, and calcium, plus 21 amino acids. Kelp noodles assist in healthy thyroid function (for those without a sensitivity to iodine), promote weight loss, protect against osteoporosis, and enhance heart health. They contain no fat, cholesterol, protein, gluten, or sugar.


Crunchy broccoli slaws are one of my favorites, especially when topped with a gingery Asian dressing and a big handful of seeds. I hope you’ll enjoy this, too!

Kelp noodle and broccoli slaw

The kelp noodle brands I’ve seen are sold in 12 ounce packages (you’ll use 6 ounces for this recipe). The kelp strands are very long and are wound into loose, stiff ball. Store unused noodles in a container, covered with water, in the fridge.


  • for the slaw:
  • 6 ounces kelp noodles (seaweed tangles)
  • 1 head broccoli, grated (use the stems, too)
  • 1 small head purple/red cabbage, grated
  • 1 small carrot, grated
  • 1 small green onion, chopped
  • ginger tahini dressing
  • for the ginger tahini dressing:
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar*
  • 2 tablespoon white miso
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil (such as grapeseed or canola)
  • 1 teaspoon honey (or your favorite sweetener)
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 1/2″ inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 green onion, roughly chopped
  • pinch red pepper flakes (optional, provides a gentle heat)
  • salt, to taste (begin with 1/8 teaspoon, or a big pinch)
  • water to thin
  • for assembly:
  • a handful of your favorite seeds or nuts (I use pepitas and sliced almonds)


  1. For the slaw: Soak the kelp noodles in a bowl of warm water for about 15 minutes, then rinse and drain (this helps to loosen the noodles). Use a pair of kitchen shears to cut the mass in half (store the unused half in the fridge in container covered with water and sealed). Continue snipping into the noodle mass to create shorter strands, pulling the them apart as you go.
  2. Toss the grated broccoli, cabbage, carrots, and green onions in a medium bowl. Add the kelp noodles a little at a time, gently folding into the other ingredients to mix.
  3. For the dressing: Add all ingredients (except the water) to a tall container and blend with an immersion blender until smooth (or use a regular blender). Add water one teaspoon at a time and continuing blending until dressing reaches your desired consistency (I end up using 1 to 2 tablespoons). Taste, and add more salt if necessary.
  4. Pour the dressing over the slaw and toss gently. Top with nuts or seeds. Store in the fridge until served. (For extra crunchiness, add the dressing just before serving.)

*Apple cider vinegar will give extra tang to the recipe, which I prefer. For a more subtle result, use rice vinegar.

Prep Time: 30 minutes (includes soaking time)       Yield: 6 generous servings as a side dish


3 Responses
  1. March 11, 2013

    Kelp noodles – that is a new one on me. Are they similar to either rice vermicelli or glass noodles in texture? It’s amazing that they have that kind of nutritional profile- apprearances are deceiving. Intrigued.

    When I worked at Tri-County (between HS & College), JJ’s was one of my regular haunts :-) The new JJ’s is only about 10 minutes from my brother’s house vs. the half hour trek to get to the other one. Last time I was out there, we spent almost 3 hrs walking around (the old one) – I think 1/3 of that was spent checking out cheese. And their hot sauce selection is In.Sane.

    • Karen @ Leaf & Grain permalink*
      March 11, 2013

      They’re closer to glass noodles, but with this delicate little crunch – if you could shave a carrot down to a teeny, tiny-thin strand (without it falling apart), it would be that kind of crunch (not the taste, though, just the texture).

      I’ve been to the new JJ’s about a dozen times now, and I’m pretty certain I still haven’t seen all of it. Unlike the original location, which is one big open box once you get past the sushi, deli, and cheese, the new location has all of these nooks and crannies, aisles that dog-leg out of sight, and separate rooms for the big draws, like cheese and alcohol. I can’t get out of there in under an hour, even when I know what I’m shopping for (the International section is on one side of the store, the produce clear on the other – my two main stops). Lots of sightings of the JJ Man himself. Plus, he bought out the entire shopping complex where this location resides, and attracted some small and local businesses, like a smoothie bar, an olive oil company, and my favorite spice vendor (the only one we had here before Penzeys – Penzeys is great, but I like Colonel De’s better). :)

  2. March 19, 2013

    I love broccoli. It is actually one of my favorite vegetables. What caught me about the dish though is its presentation. The colors blende well and you were even able to select the right plate to make it look even better. Sometimes the right food presentation can be inviting leading to an increased appetite. Thanks for sharing this awesome blog.

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