Mekabu and Wakame – Day 2

On Sunday we went directly to the harbor in Kobuchihama where we helped out with mekabu. This time it was for one company only and we were about 10 people. In the end we managed to do 500+ kg mekabu. It was fun work though I doubt I would stay sane doing this day in and day out for more than a week.

Anyway, before this trip I had eaten wakame without a thought that someone have to harvest it and prepare it before it ends up in the shops and eventually on my plate or in my soup. Now I could see almost all steps of making that happen, except the harvesting in the ocean and what happens after the wakame is picked up for transportation.

First the raw wakame is cooked quickly, just a few minutes. Then it is put into a giant top loaded laundry-like machine where it soaks in super-salted water for about 50 minutes.

Next the soft “hair” part of the wakame is separated by hand from its stalk. This was the part that was not really my strong side, but Ishihara-san and Chie was doing good 🙂

Once the wakame was separated from its stalk it is put under heavy pressure for some time. Then it is put into a tumbler before it is packed into boxes. Each box contain 15 kg of wakame and is sold for about 20000 JPY a box.

The final step is for someone to buy the boxes and come and pick them up.

Even though we were working we also had time to go out with one of the fishermen on his boat. We picked up some cages that they had put out the day before to catch sea shells and crab. We also visited where he was growing oysters but since everything was destroyed in the tsunami they were still too small to eat – may need 2 more years before they are ready to harvest.

At about 4 pm we were in our car driving back to Tokyo. It’s a 6-7 hours drive depending on how fast you drive and how long you rest. Luckily Chie and I shared to burden as all the work had made me tired… In a good way 🙂

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