Given Australia’s love of Japanese food, most of us have consumed seaweed in some form, whether it’s wrapped around our sushi rolls or in our miso soup.
But did you know it’s been a daily staple throughout Asia for thousands of years? As well as Japanese, you’ll find it in Korean, Vietnamese, Malaysian and Filipino cuisines.
A type of algae that comes in red, green and brown, edible seaweed is from the sea – you can’t eat freshwater seaweed as it’s toxic. Edible seaweed comes in many forms and can be used in a variety of ways.
This is the dry sheet of seaweed that’s wrapped around sushi rolls. Mild in flavour, it’s made in a way similar to paper. Usually toasted before eating, nori can be enjoyed with fish and rice for breakfast, dipped in soy sauce as a snack or it can be crumbled up and used as a seasoning.
Made from red seaweed, dulse is soft and chewy, but you’ll find it more commonly used in its dried, flaky form as a flavouring in salads and soups.
This is the most commonly available form of edible seaweed with kombu and wakame being the two most popular. Kelp is common in both Japanese and Korean soups or with sashimi. These are especially served fresh as a salad with some sesame oil on a bed of lettuce.
Edible seaweed is full of vitamins and minerals, including folate, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, selenium and iodine. However, if you’re prone to thyroid issues, care needs to be taken to ensure you don’t end up with too much iodine.
If you’re a vegetarian, seaweed is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. It has high levels of antioxidants and has been shown to aid digestion. But, if you have digestive issues, avoid seaweeds that are high in carrageenan.
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