How to Eat Seaweed

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Humans have eaten seaweed since prehistoric times. The growing international popularity of Japanese cuisine has exposed people to this ancient food source and helped spread its acceptance among non-Asian cultures. While the nutritional values vary according to species, seaweed provides a healthy food source. High in protein and low in fat, seaweed provides a good source of potassium, iron, iodine, vitamins A, B, and C, and other trace minerals. Compounds in seaweed aid in digestion and burn fatty tissue. Both Asian and Western cuisines offer several different ways to eat seaweed.

Asian Cuisine

  • Use kelp (known as kombu in Japan and as kunbu or haidai in China and Korea) to make Japanese style soup stocks and hot pots, and serve it as a vegetable with rice.

  • Serve wakame as a soup base or as an ingredient in miso soup. Sunomono salad is a traditional seaweed salad common in Japanese cuisine. The Japanese also serve wakame toasted, rolled in sugar and tinned, or resoaked and served with boiled rice.

  • Make sushi and rice balls using thin sheets of seaweed called nori. Flake the dried sheets and add them to soups, sauces and broths, or soak and eat them as is.

Western Cuisine

  • Sun-dry dulse, a red seaweed found in the North Atlantic, and eat it plain or grind it in a powder to use in dough. Quickly panfry it in garlic butter, or cover it in cheese and salsa and bake it in the oven. Use it as a salad green or on sandwiches.

  • Dry Irish moss, or sea lettuce, in the oven for several hours and crumble it as a seasoning for soups, rice or main dishes. Include fresh Irish moss leaves in salads and in dishes such as the traditional dessert blancmange.

  • Cook laverbread, a Welsh seaweed, for several hours with a little salt to form a thick puree similar to spinach. Spread it on toast, topped with oatmeal or malted vinegar and a side of bacon. Use laverbread in pasta dishes or on seafood pizzas.

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