District 4 Bread

Who didn’t fall in love with Finnick while reading Catching Fire? I'm hoping Ryan Gosling plays him in the movie... what lady doesn't love him too? While reading I also became fixated on Collin’s description of District 4 bread. If you haven't read the second book, the bread is described as fish-shaped. Faintly green in color, the bread is littered with seaweed, which gives the bread a signature salty flavor reminiscent of the ocean. Why? District 4 is said to be mostly coastline- its main export fish. I would have never thought to pair seaweed with anything other than something like fish or rice. Never thought to put it into bread. I had to try.

District 4 Bread (Seaweed rolls)

2 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for kneading)
1 oz of dried seaweed sheets*
 1 3/4 cups water (warm)
3 tsp active dry yeast
¼ cup + 1 tsp sugar
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ tsp salt
2 Tbsp melted butter

1.     Heat the water in the microwave to roughly 110. This is about 20 seconds in the microwave. When you insert your fingertip into the water it should feel warm than your body, like comfortable bath water- but NOT hot. Add your yeast to the water. Sprinkle 1 tsp of sugar into the yeast and stir well. Set aside for 10 minutes
2.     In a large bowl combine your wheat flour, all-purpose flour, sugar and salt.
3.     Take your sheets of dried seaweed and crumble over the flour. You want nice small pieces so that the seaweed not only distributes evenly, but also rehydrates a little during the baking process. Mix thoroughly.
4.     Add the oil to the dry ingredients
5.     Add the water/yeast to dry ingredients.
6.     Mix everything together until the dough forms a ball in the center of the bowl, pulling away from the sides.
7.     Place your dough on a generously floured, flat surface. Knead for 6-10 minutes.
8.     Form dough into a tight ball then place it in a lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl. Dough needs to rise for 11/2-2 hours. For the best results flip the dough over in its bowl and gently pat the top down every 30 minutes.
9.     When the dough has finished rising divide it into 8 equal parts.
10. Roll the 8 parts into balls and then shape into fish. One trick to maintaining the shape once the bread is baked is to over exaggerate the fish’s features. Make the tail/fins/body a little longer and skinnier than you would like the finished product to look like- the shape swells as the dough bakes.


11. Place the fish on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover the fish and let them rise for 15 more minutes while the oven preheats.
12. Preheat the oven to 325.
13. Brush the tops of the fishes with melted butter. Bake for 20 minutes.

* I used two packages of Trader Joe’s Seaweed Snacks (.8 oz total weight) and they worked perfectly! But if you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you, try the Asian section of your local grocery store or an Asian specialty grocer and use the seaweed sheets made for rolling sushi.

            These came out way better than I expected. After the fish came out of the oven I couldn’t stop playing with them. They were so cute! I was so excited with how well the shape came out! Flavor-wise I was worried this bread would come out overly salty- but they were really well balanced. Of course you’re not going to like them if you’re not into seaweed at all. The texture was soft and fluffy. They made wonderful toast, with just a little salted butter on them. They would make great tuna-salad sandwiches.


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