Getting acquainted with Japanese seaweed
If you are looking to add a nutritional boost to your meals, consider cooking with Japanese seaweed. These sea vegetables are loaded with nutrients, minerals and flavour. They are rich in umami and will add oomph to salads, soups, broths, seafood and countless other preparations.
So how do you cook with seaweed? Let's take a closer look at five different types of Japanese seaweed and how to use them in the kitchen.
Five types of Japanese seaweed
Perhaps the most familiar of all Japanese seaweeds thanks to its use in sushi and rolls. Nori is also sold as a snack and is a good source of vitamins A and C.
Full of umami and with great texture, kombu is a key ingredient in the Japanese broth known as dashi. It is highly nutritious and delicious in stews and salads.
Another fun use for kombu? Use it to cook beans as it helps reduce the gas content in legumes.
These small flakes of seaweed are an excellent addition to salads. They are black in colour and rich in fibre, iodine, calcium, magnesium and iron.
Hijiki is believed to aid the digestive system, lower cholesterol and boost energy. It should be soaked in water for 30 minutes before using in recipes.
Agar agar is most commonly used as a thickening agent in desserts and is a great vegetarian alternative to gelatin. It's a popular ingredient in molecular gastronomy and is made from red algae.
A wonderful source of magnesium, wakame is low in calories and virtually fat free. It is commonly used in seaweed salad and soups, most famously miso soup.
Edible algae can be packed with nutritional benefits. While we recommend consuming them in (tasty!) food form, many are also available as supplements. Research has shown that seaweed is high in anti-oxidants, thought to have anti-cancer properties. Algae is also packed with protein, as well as a healthy dose of calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and B vitamins, along with essential fats.
If you can’t get enough of the flavours of the sea, then try this sophisticated oyster and seaweed recipe that comes courtesy of the acclaimed Irish chef JP McMahon.