October 13, 2009

Eating Your Greens

By Stuart Turner

The first time I saw seaweed on a menu, I found it hard to picture anything but the knobbly, wet greenery that washes up on beaches across Britain. 

It was not the Chinese that brought seaweed to our dinner plates, we have been eating it here for years (like in Welsh laver bread) though in the Far East, it has been a staple of their diet for thousands of years.

Historians have found evidence that six types of seaweeds were used in 800 A.D in everyday cooking in Japan and nori, which is used in sushi, dates back to this period.

Nori is just one type of edible seaweed which comes in dried sheets to wrap round your sushi. The dried sheets are made by a process of shredding and rack drying. It was originally made as a paste and then turned into sheets using similar methods to traditional ways of making paper. The nori is farmed in nets on the seas surface and, in Japan; over 230 square miles of Japanese coastal waters are used to produce 350,000 tonnes of nori each year.

Nori sheets are a true sushi essential and used for sushi rolls, temaki cones, gunkanmaki and more. There are different brands and different qualities but sushi is generally best eaten fresh as the nori stays slightly crisp and doesn’t pick up moisture from the rice or filling.

In Japanese cooking seaweed is used for a range of other dishes. Different seaweeds like Wakame, come in dried strips that expand when wet and are perfect for flavouring soups and can be used in salads if fresh. Other types like Dried kelp can also be used to make a delicious stock for soups or vegetables.

Seaweed is also something of a superfood and is low in fat and high in iron, calcium, vitamin A, B and C, fibre, and protein so it is good for your diet and your taste buds and a delicious way to eat your greens.

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