6 Ways the Japanese Include Seaweed in Their Diet

6 Ways the Japanese Include Seaweed in Their Diet

seaweed dishes

Seaweed has been a staple in Japanese cuisine for centuries, prized not only for its unique taste but also for its numerous health benefits. From traditional dishes to modern innovations, the Japanese have found diverse and delicious ways to incorporate seaweed into their diet. Here are six popular methods:

Nori Sheets for Sushi Rolls

Perhaps the most well-known use of seaweed in Japanese cuisine is nori, thin sheets of dried seaweed used to wrap sushi rolls. Nori adds a distinctive umami flavour and a crisp texture to sushi, giving it that extra deliciousness and aesthetically pleasing touch. Beyond sushi, nori sheets are also enjoyed as a snack, often seasoned with salt or flavoured with ingredients like soy sauce, chilli or wasabi.

Miso Soup with Wakame

Wakame, a type of edible seaweed with a subtly sweet flavour and tender texture, is a common ingredient in miso soup. This traditional and delicious Japanese soup is made of a savoury broth made from fermented soybean paste (miso), along with ingredients like tofu, spring onions, and of course, wakame. Rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, wakame adds nutritional value to this comforting dish. It also gives the soup a unique and unmistakable taste.

Tsukudani for Flavourful Condiment

Tsukudani is a popular Japanese condiment made by simmering seaweed (often kombu or nori) with soy sauce, mirin, and sugar until it becomes thick and flavourful. This concentrated mixture is used as a topping or seasoning for various dishes, such as rice, noodles, or grilled meats. Tsukudani’s intense umami taste makes it a versatile and addictive addition to many Japanese recipes.

Salads with Hijiki

Hijiki is a dark brown seaweed known for its rich flavour and chewy texture. In Japanese cuisine, hijiki is often rehydrated and cooked with soy sauce, sugar, and other seasonings to make a delicious salad. Mixed with ingredients like carrots, tofu, and sesame seeds, hijiki salad offers a nutritious and satisfying dish packed with vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre.

Agar for Desserts

Agar, a gelatinous substance derived from seaweed, is widely used in Japanese desserts as a plant-based alternative to gelatin. When dissolved in water and cooled, agar forms a firm and transparent jelly-like texture, perfect for making sweets like agar-agar fruit jelly, yokan (a traditional sweet bean jelly), and warabi mochi (a chewy confection made from bracken starch).

Seaweed Snacks for On-the-Go

In recent years, seaweed snacks have gained popularity both in Japan and internationally as a healthy and flavourful snack option. These crispy, thinly sliced seaweed sheets are often seasoned with salt, sesame oil, or other spices, offering a satisfying crunch and a burst of umami flavour. Portable and convenient, seaweed snacks are a guilt-free treat that’s low in calories and nutrients.

In conclusion, seaweed plays a vital role in Japanese cuisine, providing not only delicious flavours but also a wide range of health benefits. Whether it’s wrapped around sushi rolls, simmered in soups, or sprinkled over salads, seaweed adds depth and complexity to dishes while contributing to a balanced and nutritious diet. So, the next time you’re looking to expand your culinary horizons, consider incorporating seaweed into your meals the Japanese way! 

Not sure how to cook seaweed? Come to enjoy the wonderful flavours of seaweed in one of our restaurants! Choose between our wakame seaweed salad, miso soup, seaweed roll or our variety of sushi! Find your nearest location here.

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