Cooking With Seaweed.

There are many types of seaweed (sea vegetables) available for sale, such as Kelp, Nori, Irish Moss, Wakame, Hijiki, Kombu, Sea Lettuce, etc., and all of them are highly nutritious and healthy. Some add salty taste to food, other types are somewhat sweet, so it can be used in a variety of dishes to add nutrition. Seaweed is highly alkaline, one of the richest source of iodine that is so important for proper thyroid function and might help to lose weight, contains most of the minerals, vitamins and amino acids, but very low in calories.

It comes in a dry or fresh form and can be either soaked and used for soups and stews, or used as dry flakes or strips. I like to cut Nori sheets into long strips and mix it with brown rice for extra nutrition. It also adds colour and crunch to it. To me, a little bit of seaweed is also a must in most soups, stews and salads. Sea lettuce is my favourite because of its neutral taste that can go with anything. Nori sheets can also be used instead of wheat or corn tortillas to make healthy, gluten and sugar free wraps.

Another great thing about seaweed is the thickening agent called Agar. It is a substitution for gelatin and it is usually sold in transparent flakes that are easy to use for making your favorite jellies and other desserts and dishes where gelatin is required. Derived from seaweed, it is of course vegan.

Be careful when buying fresh seaweed as it must be absolutely fresh with no signs of rotting. Fresh seaweed is very healthy, while spoiled one, just like any other food, is toxic. Fresh seaweed must be vacuum packed and stored in refrigerator. Dried seaweed can be stored for a long time even after opening, but it must always be tightly sealed to avoid exposure to moisture and too much air. Dried seaweed expands a lot when soaked, so don’t be put off by a tiny bag or dried greens – a little goes a long way. Soak it according to instructions before cooking and wash away any sand grains.┬áNowadays, most common types of seaweed such as Nori and Wakame can be bought in any large supermarket. Most other types can be bought from health food stores, independent fishmongers, or ordered online.

Oh, now I miss that “sea salad” I used to have when I was a kid. It was ready made meal of seaweed, sea cucumber (they look like giant worms, but they are delicious!), clams and calamari rings…yum! Yes, I ate all sorts of weird and wonderful things growing up by Japanese sea.

Dried Nori sheets and sea lettuce

 

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