Japan’s Most Popular Seaweeds

Seaweed Varieties and Uses

Let’s look at five of Japan’s best loved seaweeds – the most consumed varieties and how they’re used.

Nori (海苔) 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. It’s being consumed by ancient Japanese as paste and not until the Edo period in the 1750’s did they discover the paste can be formed into paper-like strips and taste as delicious.

Nori is also a popular seasoning in ramen soups and noodles, sprinkled atop some dishes, and can even be eaten as snacks. Aonori (青海苔) 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 (昆布) 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 (鹿尾菜) is one more seaweed, a type of 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 (若布), 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.

Classic Dishes Flavored by Seaweeds

Enjoy Japan’s popular seaweeds in your classic favorites at Aji Sushi, your Japanese restaurant in Issaquah. Have seaweed in our salads, sushi and miso soup and look no further than Aji Sushi.