Edible seaweed, nori is a hugely popular food in a number of East Asian countries, particularly Japan. People in the West perhaps know this seaweed as the one that is used to wrap sushi pieces. Nevertheless, they also use nori for garnishing, to add essence to soups and noodle dishes or use it in the form of a health supplement. In fact, increasingly health stores across the globe are now selling fresh or dried nori as people are becoming more aware about the therapeutic and health properties of this seaweed.
There are many Asian dishes that use nori as an important ingredient. It is used both dried or toasted and usually sold in the form of sheets. People in Japan and China have been consuming this edible seaweed for several centuries. It is an important element of Japanese cuisine. Majority of consumers in the West are familiar with nori seaweed because it is used to wrap sushi. It has a typically salty and somewhat grassy taste and is delectable even when consumed separately.
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Nori belongs to the genus Porphyra, which includes various other species that are grown commercially and harvested for various use. These species include Porphyra tenera and Porphyra yezoensis. Algae that are typically found in the sea are cultivated in enclosed nets, so that it is easy to pull them out of water to harvest the algae. The color of species belonging to this genus varies from green to red. Usually, they grow in undulating fronds. They grow naturally on rocks or may be found growing attaches to several other types of seaweeds like kelp.
After harvesting nori seaweed, it is thoroughly washed in fresh water and subsequently shredded in a shredding machine prior to processing it into mould and allowed to dry. The final product is akin to a paper sheet. Often nori is sold plain for use in several different types of foods, such as soups. In addition, you can also toast and flavour the seaweed for using them in other preparations or to eat them in the form of a snack. For instance, toasted nori seaweed dipped in sesame seeds and seasoned with soy sauce is a very popular delicacy in Japan.
Nori is available in an assortment of colors as well as flavours. The color and flavour of nori depends on the precise type of seaweed as well as the process employed to treat it. While some seaweed may come with a reddish hue, there are others that have a dark green color. Most consumers are familiar with the dark green variety of nori. Aside from these varieties, some nori sheets also come in deep purple color or they may be almost black. Nori sheets are extremely popular for preparing sushi, as its dark color forms an excellent contrast with the white sushi rice.
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Apart from its use in soups and more widely in sushi, some people also shred nori and scatter it on rice preparations as well as stir fries. Often, finely shredded nori is used in the form of a condiment, mostly because of this seaweed's salty and crispy texture. In fact, there are people who take great delight in consuming the whole nori sheets seasoned with soy sauce. In China, some cooks especially use nori as well as other seaweeds in traditional soups that also include other sea vegetables and fish.
Since sushi is extremely popular, you can easily get toasted nori in most markets worldwide. Some speciality stores also sell nori in the form of special snack foods. They also sell untoasted nori, in addition to other dried seaweeds.
When you are using nori to cook any dish, ensure that you handle the seaweed very carefully. Make sure that the nori sheets do not become wet or damp. In case nori gets wet it will become mushy and chewy. If you don't need to use a full packet of nori sheets, it is advisable that you seal the remaining sheets properly before storing; otherwise they will become damp or set in rancour.
Traditionally, people in Japan have been using the nori seaweed as a part of their cuisine for several centuries. Recent studies involving nori have helped scientists to realize the multiple health benefits of this seaweed.
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Several seaweeds are considered to be edible and they also contain several nutrients. However, among all these edible seaweeds, nori has the maximum nutrient concentration. Some of the nutrients contained by nori are mentioned below along with their respective health benefits.
Nori is loaded with vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, dietary fiber, protein and iron. Consuming this seaweed helps to augment our energy. In addition, it is also good for the health of your eyes, liver, skin and hair. Nori consumption is also known to be excellent for our mental health, as it not only enhances alertness, but also ensures that the central nervous system functions effectively. The best part of this nutritious seaweed is that it contains very few calories.
Nori seaweed possesses anticoagulant properties, which are useful in putting off formation of blood clots, thereby reducing the chances of having strokes. At the same time, it thwarts build up of cholesterol in the blood stream. Since nori also contains the essential mineral magnesium, it is helpful for lessening inflammation. Moreover, this seaweed is also useful in treating migraine headaches.
People who are keen to lose weight and have been trying various weight loss programs will find this seaweed beneficial. It is an ideal weight loss food, since it has a low fat content, helping you to shed those extra pounds. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that only taking an appropriated nutrition diet is not sufficient to lose the desired weight. In addition to a healthy diet, one should also undertake regular workouts.
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These days, nori seaweed is widely used as an important element of several health foods. Findings of a number of studies have revealed that this seaweed contains skin cleansing properties and, hence, it is useful in avoiding signs of premature aging. Moreover, this seaweed also helps to enhance circulation, besides possessing detoxification properties.
Nori seaweed is a wonderful source of several vitamins, including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B1, and vitamin B3. It also contains several essential minerals. Iron is present in significant amounts in this seaweed and it helps to neutralize the harmful free radicals. As a result, consumption of nori helps to protect our cells from damage.
This seaweed also contains the essential omega-3 fatty acid, which has a vital role in enhancing one's overall health. These fatty acids are essential for the growth and development of our brain, in addition to minimize the risks of strokes and heart disease.
Aside from its therapeutic properties, nori is also used for several culinary purposes. You can add them to soups with a view to contribute to their typical salty as well as tangy flavour. The essence of soups can be greatly enhanced by sprinkling nori on them before consumption. For toasting, you need to lower the flame of the gas burner and hold nori using tongs. They move the nori sheet backward and forward over the flame for roughly 30 seconds or till the time it becomes crispy.
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You can also use nori seaweed to prepare a delicious snack. In order to do so, first fold a nori sheet into half and subsequently unfold it. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the inside half of the nori sheet with sesame oil. Then sprinkle a little salt on the inside half of the sheet, fold the sheet, press it and cut it into small strips for your bite. Next, place the strips inside a baking sheet; ensure that they are placed at some distance from each other to keep them away from sticking together. Preheat the oven to 250°F and then put the baking sheet inside it and toast them for about 15 minutes or till they become crunchy. When they are crispy, take the sheets out from the oven and place them in a cooling rack. Follow the same process for all the nori strips. If you want to store these crispy nori strips for later use, ensure that you keep them in a sealed glass jar. In case the strips lose their crunchiness during their storage period, you can toast them again following the same process.
Although nori seaweed offers several health benefits, people on low sodium diets are advised to stay away from this food, because its consumption may result in negative side effects in them.
After harvesting the nori seaweed, it is washed thoroughly with fresh water and subsequently put into a shredding machine to cut them into smaller pieces measuring about 0.5 cm x 1 cm.
After shredding, fresh water is added to nori seaweed. The fresh water is first poured into frames and subsequently again fed into a machine, which is somewhat akin to a machine used for making paper. This machine helps to drain out water from the seaweed through the production process. Finally, nori seaweed is put on a heated surface to make dry sheets of the vegetation.
Subsequently, the dried nori seaweed sheets are quickly packed and sealed in cellophane to ensure that moisture does not reduce the quality of the food. Now they are ready for shipment to different places.