25/01/2017 10:01 PM AEDT

How To Eat Seaweed, For Those Of You Who Have No Idea

The leafy greens of the sea deserve a spot on our plates.

Sheets of dried kombu
Jonathan Austin Daniels via Getty Images
Sheets of dried kombu
Tri-Eun via Getty Images

If you’ve had your fill of kale, and you couldn’t possibly imagine eating another spinach salad, consider trying the leafy green of the sea. Yes, we’re talking about seaweed. There’s a whole world of greens that comes from the ocean and they are nutritional powerhouses.

Seaweed is high in nutrients ― such as calcium, iodine, folate and magnesium ― and it is low in calories. Research also suggests that it can help regulate estrogen and estradiol levels, plus it contributes to your weekly vegetable intake.

So now that you’ve made the decision to take a bite from under the sea, how do you do it?

Seaweed has long been used in Asian cuisine. In China, Korea and Japan, it has been a part of the daily diet for centuries, found in dishes from soup to eggs.

There are three main types of seaweed that we eat ― most of them are bought dried, and either eaten that way or rehydrated. The three major types are nori, kombu and wakame. 

Nori is a red seaweed that can be bought in dried sheets. If you like sushi, you know that nori is often used to make the rolls. If you frequent health food stores, chances are you’ve also seen the now popular nori snacks. They’re basically dried sheets of seaweed (and you can also make them yourself). But the world of nori goes beyond that. You can also add it to salad dressings. Or crumble it onto rice. It’s even nice topped on popcorn. A sprinkle of it on top of dishes adds a nice umami punch.

Now that you’ve got that covered, let’s move on to kombu. Kombu, a member of the kelp family, is a brown seaweed. It is most popularly used to make dashi, a flavorful Japanese broth that’s integral to the country’s cuisine, and is crucial in the making of miso soup, too. 

Wakame, another brown seaweed, is also used to make miso soup, but it is kept in the soup as an ingredient to be eaten and not just part of flavoring the broth, like kombu. Wakame is a slightly sweet seaweed, and that’s why it is also used to make seaweed salads.

You can find all of these seaweeds online, and most likely also at your nearest Asian market. Some international sections of local grocery stores will carry dried seaweed, but not all. Once you locate the ingredients, try them in the recipes below.

  • 1Easy Miso Soup
    Easy Miso Soup
    Rasa Malaysia
    Get the Easy Miso Soup recipe from Rasa Malaysia

    This recipe is prepared with a dashi broth, which is traditionally made with kombu. 
  • 2Nori Salad Dressing
    Nori Salad Dressing
    Healthfully Ever After
    Get the Nori Salad Dressing recipe from Healthfully Ever After

    Nori is blended into this salad dressing.
  • 3Salmon Roll Sushi Bowl
    Salmon Roll Sushi Bowl
    Savory Tooth
    Get the Salmon Roll Sushi Bowl recipe from Savory Tooth

    The sushi bowl is topped with crumbled nori.
  • 4Sriracha Popcorn With Nori
    Sriracha Popcorn With Nori
    Root And Revel
    Get the Sriracha Popcorn with Nori recipe from Root And Revel

    Nori is sprinkled on top of this popcorn.
  • 5Shrimp Burger With Wakame
    Shrimp Burger With Wakame
    The Kitchy Kitchen
    Get the Shrimp Burger With Wakame recipe from The Kitchy Kitchen

    A seaweed salad made with wakame is tops this shrimp burger.
  • 6Sunomono (Cucumber Salad)
    Sunomono (Cucumber Salad)
    Dang That's Delicious
    Get the Sunomono (Cucumber Salad) recipe from Dang That's Delicious

    This recipe uses dried wakame seaweed.