If you've eaten sushi before, then you're familiar with nori – it's the dried seaweed wrap used for making rolls and other sushi applications. Nori, however, is used for a great many other things, and it turns out that it's a nutritional powerhouse in its own right you can enjoy without the raw fish.
Tell Me About Nori
Nori is actually a type of red seaweed that turns the familiar black-and-green when dried. It's been used in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean cuisine for centuries, where it's far more commonly consumed in a wide variety of applications, including soups, sauces, or simply right out of the bag. What bread is to the western world, seaweed is to many Asian cultures, and now, the western world is starting to catch on to the power of nori.
Why is Nori A Nutritional Powerhouse?
Like other seaweeds and sea vegetables, nori is one of the highest natural sources of iodine found in nature. One hundred grams of nori contains an impressive 6mg of iodine. There's a reason why goiter and hyperthyroidism – maladies caused by iodine deficiencies – are virtually unheard of in the Far East. Nori is also iron, calcium, and magnesium, the latter two being critical for bone health.
Nori is also a significant source of protein and fiber, and not many calories. Ten sheets of nori contains around 22 calories. Nori is also rich in vitamins A, B-6, and C.
How Do I Use Nori?
So what can you do with nori? While it's eaten dried and plain in Asia, Westerners haven't grown up with it and don't generally have a taste for it. That said, if you want to try making sushi at home, you'll want some nori sheets available. Nori is great at adding a crunchy texture to soups and salads – use them much as you'd use croutons, for example, and it goes great as a topper on rice or steamed vegetables.
Nori is a great entry into the world of raw food since it is dried at low temperatures and is used in place of bread in many raw food applications.
You can also take nori sheets, cut them into slices, and sprinkle them with some sea salt, low-sodium soy sauce (or soy sauce alternative), and wasabi powder (to name just one example) to make your own snacks.
You can also make a traditional Japanese condiment, gomasio, with nori. Traditionally, it's sprinkled over stir-fried dishes, rice, or vegetables, but with the rich umami taste this brings, there's no reason it can't be used in some of your own cooking.