From The Deep to Your Dinner Plate
Seaweeds (kaiso) have been an important part of the Japanese diet for many centuries. Today, various types of seaweed are used extensively as soup stock, seasonings and other forms in daily Japanese cooking. There’s even seaweed salad. Over the past decades, foreigners have become more familiar with their flavors though seaweed and the full extent of its culinary applications remain a bit mysterious to many. Let’s have a look at these delicacies of the deep.
A member of the algae family, edible seaweed typically comes in three varieties: brown, red, and green. The most commonly eaten and researched are the brown varieties such as kelp and wakame, followed by red seaweed.
Nori is the most familiar, a type of red algae that appears green to the eyes. It looks like paper and is used to wrap sushi rolls and onigiri or rice balls. Nori is also a popular seasoning in ramen soups and noodles, sprinkled atop some dishes, and can even be eaten as snacks.
Aonori is blue green nori, actually a different species of sea algae used to flavour many dishes. It is usually available as a dried and powdered ingredient. When sprinkled over food, it releases a very powerful aroma and brings out the flavors dishes like yakisoba noodles, octopus balls, tempura (shrimps), and also used to flavor Japanese potato chips.
Then there’s the Konbu, a sea kelp which grows in long strips and is the main ingredient for making dashi soup (stock) where its dried form is boiled into dashi. Konbu is also pickled in vinegar, chopped into fine strips, or made into tsukudani, a chilled side dish, or as powdered konbu made into Japanese tea.
Hijiki is one more seaweed, a brown algae but looks black and usually sold dry. It is added to fish or vegetables, eaten as side dish, and flavors sushi. Finally, the Wakame, also a sea kelp like konbu, but much more tender and succulent. It is a brown algae, even though it is bright green. It goes with root vegetable, added to miso soup, salads or eaten by itself. It is also a very rich source of folic acid.
Flavors of Seaweeds in Federal Way
Catch Japan’s popular seaweeds in your classic favorites at K-Ton, your Japanese restaurant in Federal Way.