Welcome back to our "How The Heck Do You Use..." series! Last time, we showed you how to use fresh ginger. Today, we are discussing another Asian favorite... seaweed!
Seaweed comes in many varieties and is most often used in Asian cuisines in soups, as a side dish, in salads, or as an accompaniment to rice. It can be found easily in Asian grocery stores, but can also be found in many specialty food stores, online, and some major grocery stores. Seaweed is a great natural source of iodine and other important minerals that the American diet tends to be low in. Research has also found that the fiber and other beneficial compounds in seaweed may even help in managing blood sugar!
But how the heck do you use seaweed? Below is a quick introduction to a few of our favorite ways to eat different types of seaweed.
Nori: As it is used for making sushi, nori is one of the most popular types of seaweed consumed in North America. Nori comes packaged into paper thin square sheets and is usually seasoned. Aside from using nori to make sushi, it can be cut or folded into rectangular strips and eaten like chips, making it a great low carbohydrate snack to curb potato or corn chip cravings. You can also buy snack sizes versions of nori with tasty flavors like teriyaki or wasabi.
Wakame: Wakame comes dried and looks like small twisty flakes. When rehydrated, it will expand to 3-4 times its size. To use wakame in salads, rehydrate the amount you need in enough cold water to cover the top of the seaweed by half an inch. Once fully expanded, drain in a fine mesh sieve or colander, making sure to press on the seaweed to squeeze any excess water out. If using in a soup, no rehydration is required. Use as much as desired and toss directly into the soup. Check out this recipe for a cucumber and wakame salad.
Hijiki: Hijiki comes dried and looks almost like tea leaves. It will expand to about twice its size when rehydrated. To use in salads, rehydrate the amount you need in enough cold water to cover the top of the seaweed by half an inch. Once the seaweed is fully expanded drain in a fine mesh sieve and continue to press on the seaweed to remove any excess liquid. Here's a basic hijiki salad that can be used as a side dish or condiment.
Dulse: This type of seaweed comes in either large or tiny red-purple flakes. Dulse packs a strong savory flavor known as umami. Sprinkle it on top of your favorite whole grains, veggies, eggs or protein of choice, and even popcorn!
Kombu: Kombu is almost always used in soups. This is because it contains a high amount of the flavor known as umami. In the store you will find it dried and packaged in large strips. To make your own kombu broth for a flavorful vegan/vegetarian soup base try out this recipe. You can also add a strip of kombu to the pot when cooking dried beans to reduce their “musical fruit” capacity!