If you have ever enjoyed sushi before, chances are you are familiar with nori. Nori is widely used in Japanese cuisine, but outside of Japan, you will most commonly find nori used in sushi, and this is why nori has become so famous. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at what nori is and what makes it so unique among Japanese ingredients.
What is nori
Nori is a type of edible seaweed that is harvested and then dried before being used in cooking. These algae are cultivated in enclosed nets, which can be easily pulled out of the water for harvesting. After harvesting, the seaweed is washed and shredded and then pressed into moulds to dry. Nori is most commonly associated with sushi, although its salty, slightly grassy flavour makes it a delicious snack on its own.
Nori has been consumed in Japan for centuries. It comes in a wide range of colours and flavours, depending on what type of seaweed is used and how it is processed. Some can be reddish to brown, while sheets of nori that are dark purple or almost black are commonly used in sushi – the dark colour contrasts nicely with the white rice. Nori forms the outer layer of the sushi – it’s laid flat, and the ingredients are placed on top. It can then be easily rolled and chopped. Nori can also have varied textures due to different factors that can affect seaweeds, such as water temperature, handling, and harvesting. The best kind of nori has a uniform texture, dark green colour, and a briny, smoky taste. Japanese nori is less crispy, with a smooth texture. On the other hand, New Zealand seaweed has a rougher surface, darker colour, and is crispier.
What does nori taste like?
One of the primary flavours of nori is salt. It has a relatively strong, sea-like flavour without tasting fishy. Also, nori has a deep, rich umami flavour, which makes it savoury and sweet at the same time.
What to do with nori
Nori is often sold plain and can be used in a variety of dishes. It can also be toasted and flavoured into snacks – toasted nori flavoured with soy sauce and dipped in sesame seeds is a favourite treat in Japan. In addition to being added to soups and sushi, nori is also shredded and scattered on stir-fries and rice dishes. Finely shredded nori is often used as a condiment thanks to its crunchy texture and salty flavour. Let's take a look at some of the best ways to use nori.
The most common way in which nori is used is in square sheets – this is the type of nori that is used to make sushi. In sushi, rice is combined with other ingredients, and then the sheet is rolled. However, this isn’t the only way to serve nori sheets – they can also be roasted to make rice balls.
Nori can be easily torn up into shredded nori. Shredded nori can then be ground up and combined with other healthy ingredients, such as sunflower seeds or sesame seeds. This is usually seasoned and served with rice for a nutritious meal.
Nori can also be sliced into strips, which is another common way to serve this ingredient. Nori strips are used in a wide variety of Japanese dishes, such as soups, ramen, omelettes, and salads.
What to eat with nori
Nori can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes:
- Onigiri are often wrapped in nori.
- Norimaki mochi are toasted or grilled mochi wrapped in nori.
- Okonomiyaki are savoury pancakes and nori flakes are used as an optional topping.
- Takoyaki are round savoury pancakes stuffed with octopus, and nori flakes are an optional topping.
- Ramen is often topped with a small square of nori.
When cooking with nori, make sure it doesn't get wet. Otherwise, it will become soggy and rubbery. Store it in a dry and cool place to preserve its texture and flavour, as moisture can make nori chewy. Seal unused packages well so they won't get moist or stale.