What is Seaweed? Let’s dive into the treasures of the sea.

What is Seaweed?

There are many types of seaweed on the market, which can make it overwhelming to figure out which edible seaweed to use for what purpose. In this article, we’ll break down what seaweed is, potential nutritional benefits, and recipes to help you incorporate seaweed into your diet.

What is seaweed?

Seaweed has become a very familiar term these days, but what is seaweed exactly? Seaweed is broad term that refers to numerous marine plants and large macroalgae. Seaweed is broken into categories by color; red (Rhodophyta), green (Chlorophyta) and brown (Phaeophyta). Brown seaweed includes some 1500 species, green 7000 species and red 4000 species. Unlike sea grasses and land plants seaweed does not have flowers, roots, or leaves - instead they have stipes (stem like) and blades (leaf like). Seaweed also produces its own food by utilizing sunlight and converting carbon dioxide and water into oxygen and sugar (known as photosynthesis). It can be found growing in oceans, rivers and lakes providing homes for many sea creatures.  Many types of seaweed are edible, making them an abundant and sustainable food source for both marine and land dwellers alike.

  • Seaweed vs Kelp

    Seaweed vs Kelp is something of a misnomer. Kelp is a form of brown seaweed that grows in cooler, shallow waters often near the coastline. Giant kelp can grow up to 200 feet in its lifetime and like many other types of brown seaweed, often grows in groups or forests. By attaching itself to the substrate, kelp can stand fast against the currents and waves. Some familiar types of kelp are wakame, arame, and kombu. Kelp is often used in seaweed salads, seaweed snacks, mineral powders and even toothpaste!

Types of seaweed

The main four types of seaweed you will encounter most often are wakame, arame, kombu and nori. Each variety has classic ways that it is used and will be familiar to most. Arame, wakame, and kombu are all brown algae seaweeds and specifically a type of kelp. Nori is a form of red algae seaweed, popular for making sushi and seaweed snacks.

  • Wakame

    Wakame, also known as “Sea Mustard”, is a type of brown algae and a species of kelp. The dried version of this edible seaweed needs to be rehydrated prior to use and will expand 2 -3 times in size when hydrated. After it is rehydrated wakame turns a beautiful, brighter green color with a soft, silky, noodle-like texture. Wakame delivers an umami flavor with a salty, slightly sweet taste. Three popular recipes using wakame are the classic Japanese seaweed salad, miso soup and sunomono which is a cucumber and seaweed salad.

  • Arame

    Arame, also known as "Sea Oak", is a species of kelp that has a mild, slightly sweet flavor making it easily adaptable to a variety of uses. Usually sold in a dried state it consists of dark brown strands with a firm texture. Rehydration is required for use in cooking which generally takes about five minutes. This nutritional powerhouse can be added to muffins, soups, and salads to name a few options. Arame is also used for fertilizer and harvested for alginate which is used in food production as a stabilizer or thickener.

  • Kombu

    Given the honor of being called the “King of Seaweed” Kombu is a form of brown algae and a species of kelp. It has a briny, deep umami flavor reminiscent of mushrooms! Commonly used as a base (called dashi) to make stock or added to dry beans when cooking in order to increase their digestibility. Because of its intense umami flavor, it is used like bay leaves to enhance the flavor of sauces and soups of any type. Kombu powder can also be used to make a face mask for your skin, often recommended for oily or acne prone skin due to its antimicrobial and antioxidant characteristics.

  • Nori

    Nori is a type of red algae and the most well-known type of seaweed. Harvested, washed, shredded, dried and pressed into sheets this edible seaweed dresses up sushi all around the world. Chewy or crispy in texture, nori has a touch of salt and sweetness, but a powerhouse of umami flavor. Nori is used in many classic Japanese recipes; sushi, onigri, furikake, miso soup, and as an accompaniment to plain rice. You may also find nori used to make seaweed snacks, salad toppings, and as a powder to be added to everything from soup to popcorn.

  • Dried seaweed

    Seaweed that is intended for consumption is often dried and packaged to prolong freshness. In order to maintain that freshness, it is recommended that you ensure it is in a sealed package and stored in a cool, dry, dark location. If you want to extend the life even further, it can be frozen or refrigerated in an airtight container. Watch for changes in color or texture to determine if it is still good for use.

Is seaweed good for you?

In recent years as seaweed has grown in popularity it has also found its way into potential applications for medical use. According to Today's Dietitian studies have been conducted indicating potential applications for cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, obesity, diabetes and hypertension.

In terms of dietary applications for health, seaweed is full of fiber, protein, essential fatty acids, antioxidants and high amounts of vitamins and minerals. This can be a double edged sword, as too much of a good thing is still too much. Being informed is always the first step. For example, individuals with certain health conditions or taking certain medications may need to take caution when introducing seaweed to their diet. Anyone taking blood thinners or suffering from an autoimmune disease should consult a medical professional prior to eating seaweeds as they can cause unwanted side effects or interfere with medications.

In addition to medical conditions there are some nutrients (these vary based on the type of seaweed) that are very high and not naturally eliminated by the body when in over abundance. Livestrong.com points out that iodine and sodium content for many seaweeds is very high in just a small amount. Iodine is an essential nutrient that must be consumed, but too much iodine can cause damage to your thyroid.

Seaweed, like many things, has great benefits when eaten as part of a balanced and varied diet. Staying mindful, balanced, connected to your body, and informed is the smart move.

    • Seaweed nutrients

      High mineral content in seaweed includes calcium, iodine, iron, copper, and magnesium. Brown seaweeds are high in magnesium, one example is kombu which has 8 grams per serving which is over 50% of the daily recommended amount for an adult. Some red and green seaweeds are high in vitamin B12, nori contains 5mcg (2.4 mcg is the RDA) for an 8 gram portion. For those that grow in direct sunlight they are high in vitamin A, C, E and some forms of vitamin B (1,2,3,6,9,12). Lastly, the iron content in some cases can be very high – an 8 grams serving of dulse flakes has more iron than 3.5 ounces of lean beef.

      There is a decent amount of variation in the different forms of seaweed and often the serving sizes are small, so reading the nutritional label can be a good place to start for specifics.

Seaweed for Miso Soup

Wakame is the seaweed most often used in miso soup, but any of the four main varieties can be used for miso soup. In a traditional Japanese dashi stock, both kombu and wakame are used to make the classic dish. Arame makes a lovely topping to any steaming bowl of soup, and adding a crispy, toasted slice of nori is great for dipping or floating on top.

Seaweed recipes

  • Seaweed Snacks

    If you are looking for a really simple way to elevate your meal, then try out these simple, healthy and delicious seaweed chips made with nori, almond butter and miso.

  • Seaweed roll

    Seaweed rolls are an endlessly versatile way to enjoy sheets of seaweed such as nori, flat noodle-like wakame, crispy arame, or kombu powder for a nice umami bomb.

  • Seaweed flakes

    Seaweed flakes can be a great way to add some of that briny, umami flavor in small amounts. They can be added to smoothies, soups, salads, sushi and sandwiches. These treasures are really packed with flavor and nutrition, so a little can go a long way! Check out one classic and one unexpected way to use seaweed flakes in these recipes below.

  • Seaweed wrap

    It’s always a treat to find a new way to wrap up a bunch of delicious goodness. We think that nori is a great fit for that job!

Kombu Carrot Saute

Kombu Carrot Saute Recipe
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Kombu Carrot Saute Recipe

Kombu Carrot Saute


  • Author: Great Eastern Sun
  • Yield: 3 Servings 1x

Description

Here’s a nice way to enjoy kombu as a side dish delightfully paired with sweet sautéed carrots.


Ingredients

Scale

Instructions

  1. Rinse kombu briefly under fresh running water and wipe with a damp cloth. Simmer water and kombu on low heat for 10 minutes.
  2. Cut carrots into thin strips 1½ inch long. Sauté carrots and ginger in oil for 5 minutes over medium heat.
  3. Remove kombu from water and slice into 1½ inch strips (you may save cooking water for use as a soup stock).
  4. Add kombu and soy sauce to carrots. Turn heat to low, cover, and simmer 6 minutes. Roast sesame seeds in a small, dry skillet until golden brown and stir into vegetables.
  • Category: Side Dish

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Traditional Miso Soup

Traditional Miso Soup recipe made with Miso Master Organic Traditional Red Miso Soup

 

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Traditional Miso Soup recipe with Miso Master Organic Traditional Red Miso

Traditional Miso Soup


  • Author: Great Eastern Sun
  • Yield: 4 Servings 1x

Description

Warm-up winter with a bowl of comforting Traditional Miso Soup made with our American-made Miso Master Organic Traditional Red Miso.


Ingredients

Scale

Instructions

  1. Soak shiitakes in 1 cup of the filtered water for 20 min. Remove and slice thinly.
  2. Combine soaking water and the remaining 3 cups of filtered water and bring to boil with kombu and shiitakes. Reduce to simmer for 5 minutes, then remove kombu.
  3. Sauté tofu in toasted sesame oil until lightly browned. Add tofu and wakame to stock and heat through.
  4. Dilute miso with 1/2 cup of the hot soup broth, add back to the soup, and warm on low for 2 minutes (below the boiling point). Garnish with green onion and serve.

Miso Master Organic Country Barley Miso

Miso Master Organic Traditional Country Barley Miso is considered a Long-Term miso. It is aged naturally without temperature control for 18 months through four seasons in giant four-ton, hand-crafted Cypress, Redwood, or Fir barrels. It has a high soybean con­tent in relation to the barley koji (grain inoculated with aspergillus spores). Because soy­beans are much more difficult to ferment, with their high protein and fat content, than the high-carbohydrate grains, this miso variety requires a prolonged aging period. This gives the aspergillus spores and lactobacillus bacteria sufficient time to completely break down the complex protein and fat molecules into their more digestible constituents.  Made in USA.

Purchase Miso Master Organic Country Barley Miso at your local organic market or direct from Great Eastern Sun’s Online Market HERE > 


Mushroom Barley Stew

 

Miso Mushroom Barley Stew

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Miso Mushroom Barley Stew

Mushroom Barley Stew


  • Author: Great Eastern Sun
  • Yield: 4 Servings 1x

Description

Enjoy this classic warming winter Mushroom Barley Stew with our tasty Emperor’s Kitchen Organic Shiitake Mushrooms and seasoned with Miso Master Organic Traditional Red Miso

 


Ingredients

Scale

Instructions

  1. Wash barley and place in a large pot along with shiitake mushrooms, water, and kombu. Soak for 3 hours.
  2. Remove kombu and discard or reserve for another use. Remove and slice shiitake, and return to pot. Bring to a boil, add salt and bay leaf. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer.
  3. Heat oil in a skillet and sauté onion until transparent. Add carrot and celery and sauté for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. After simmering soup for 1 hour or so, add oregano, sautéed vegetables, and a little more water if necessary. Simmer until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Dilute the miso in a little water and add to the stew.
  6. Serve hot, garnished with minced parsley or scallion if desired.
  • Category: Stew

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