For almost as long as Japan has been in existence, Japanese people have been eating a type of sea vegetable commonly referred to as “nori.” Nori is a type of edible seaweed that is a member of the red algae species. You may recognize this tasty dark green vegetable as the wrapping to your sushi! If you have eaten seaweed and live in North America, this is probably the type of seaweed that you have experienced.
What you may not know is that seaweed, or sea vegetables, are incredibly healthy and can be eaten in almost an infinite variety of ways. The algae known as nori in Japan is called “laver” in Wales. Laver has been part of Welsh cuisine since ancient times (it is used to make a traditional type of bread called laverbread). In China this seaweed is called zicai and in Korea they call it gim. In Vancouver, Canada, they even put this adaptable seaweed on hotdogs (a popular tourist food called a Japadog).
Unlike our international counterparts, North America has not adopted seaweed fully into our local cuisine. This is a shame, because it is incredibly healthy. Seaweed is low in calories and very high in minerals and vitamins. These super-algae contain B12, vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K as well as large quantities of minerals, including calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc.
So, how do you start eating this delicious green weed? Well, it is available at most specialty or health food stores, and it is becoming an increasingly common addition to your local super market. You can buy it in a few different forms:
- Seaweed that is good for sushi comes in thin, dried sheets. (Nori that looks like this is dried on a rack during a process that is similar to paper making.) Sheets are also sold in snack containers with added salt or flavoring.
- You can also buy nori in shredded form. You may have enjoyed this type of nori in miso soup, another common Japanese dish.
At home, you can experiment with adding this flavorful vegetable to a wide variety of soups, noodles, and of course – sushi! (A good rule of thumb is that if you are cooking with seafood, seaweed frequently combines well with the flavoring.) There are many recipes available to help you get started on your seaweed journey. Have a Japanese inspired food night and combine a nori recipe with our Spicy Soba Broccoli Noodles or our Detox Soup with Nori!