Japan’s Best Known Seaweeds
Let’s look at some popular seaweeds that you can find in your Japanese dish.
Do you know Kelp? This is a very broad genus of sea plant comprising about 300 species. They are the brown marine algae that grow wild in shallow coasts in many parts of the world. The Japanese edible kelp is sometimes called kombu, most are from the species Laminaria japonica, widely cultivated on ropes in the seas of Korea and of Japan, mostly in Hokkaido. It’s one of the main ingredients of dashi, a soup stock, often eaten as a snack with green tea, and a seasoning for rice to be made into sushi. There’s Kombu tea, brewed from dried and powdered kombu. This plant is extremely high in iodine, essential for growth and development, though some varieties have less.
Nori is from the genus Porphyra, the thin twisted algae variety about just a foot long, growing also on coastal rocks particularly in the Pacific Ocean. Available as flakes, nori is traditionally in sheets and are used to roll rice in sushi or as wraps in place of tortillas or bread. Raw nori that is dark green in color or purple, with a sweet and nutty flavor, is the most nutritious, while bright green nori that have been toasted are lower in nutritional content. Crumbled pieces of the plant are also used in soups or as a substitute for salt on top of meals.
Hijiki and arame are the dark brown algae that grow in coastal Japan, China and Korea. Most commercial varieties are harvested in the Ise Bay Peninsula, less than 300 miles south of Fukushima. Being so, to be sure, these plants are tested for contaminants and the ocean waters from which they came should be confirmed non-polluted. They are soaked first in liquids or soups where they double in size. They also make great salads because they are long, like shoestrings, but are thick and coarse with pronounced ocean flavor.
Good Algae in your Sushi
Have your delicious and healthy servings of Japanese classics with kombu, nori, hijiki and arame available here at your Japanese restaurant in Bothell. Knowing that you only get the freshest and tested varieties from our seaweed sources, you’ll come often to Sushi Hana for your favorites.