Originally a delicacy in many Asian countries, seaweed is gaining international popularity. There are over 20 types of ‘edible’ seaweed and even more are being discovered. Common types of seaweed include nori, kombu, kelp, dulce and Irish moss. Most seaweed varies in colour from green to brown to red with most species being green.  Many of these different species grow in various bodies of water including oceans, lakes and rivers including the USA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2013).

Seaweed’s Nutritional Profile

Various studies (1,2) of the nutritional properties of seaweed have found that it can be consumed as a rich source of protein, fibre and various vitamins and minerals. For thousands of years, this mineral-rich sea veggie has been a staple in Asian diets imparting ‘health and beauty’.

Types of Seaweed

With over 20 types of this sea veggie, I want to dive into two kinds with you.

  • The first one is Nori.

Best known as the outer wrap of sushi rolls, nori is rich in omega -3 fatty acids and the highest protein compared to the rest of the seaweeds. This is probably the most popular seaweed, thanks to the Japanese. Almost all major cities in the world have sushi bars and restaurants. Even my local grocery store (meat and potatoes community) has a sushi counter. Its sweet and meaty (umami) flavours are also easily accepted by most people. Grocery stores in major centres and speciality food markets often have nori in sheets, strips, or flakes.

  • The second type is Kombu

Kombu is valuable for its high content of iodine, which is needed to produce two important thyroid hormones that control the metabolism. Our bodies don’t make iodine, so we have to get it through food. Kombu comes in long, thick brown strips. People use it to make dashi (Japanese soup stock).  First by cooking 4 cups of water over low heat, and then adding 8 inches of kombu that has been cut in half. It is simmered over low heat and finished by straining the stock. Sometimes dried shiitake mushrooms are added for extra flavour.


Recipe

Have you ever wanted to try to make California Rolls? Check out this recipe at taste.com and let me know if you try making it with the popular sea veggie – nori!

 

References

  1. Jimenez-Escrig A, Gomez-Ordonez E, Ruperez P. Chapter 26 – Seaweed as a Source of Novel Nutraceuticals: Sulfated Polysaccharides and Peptides. Advances in Food Nutrition Research. 2011; 64: 325-337. 2.
  2. Misurcova L, Skrovankova S, Samek D, Ambrozova J, Machu L. Chapter 3 – Health Benefits of Algal Polysaccharides in Human Nutrition. Advances in Food and Nutrition Research. 2012; 66:75-145.