Which seaweed should I add to which foods?
February 14, 2012 10:05 AM   Subscribe

Please suggest specific ways to add seaweed to my meals.

I know nothing about different types of seaweed and how they can be used in cooking.

There are lots of specialty grocery stores near me, and I've seen at least a dozen types of seaweed at a nearby Japanese grocer.

I'm wondering how I can incorporate different kinds of seaweed into my diet - both for added nutrition and a bit of adventure.

I'm not necessarily looking for Asian dishes - I'm especially intrigued by the idea of adding a bit of seaweed to a pot of lentils or a regular leafy green salad. (I'm not opposed to Asian dishes, but I don't often have a lot of Asian ingredients on hand, other than soy sauce.)

My diet tends to include lots of salads, some legumes, some eggs, some pasta. I'm not eating especially low-carb or low-fat.

(I've tried the Trader Joe's seaweed snacks and love those.)

So: which seaweeds should I add to which foods?

posted by kristi to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I sprinkle dried, powdered kelp on my eggs, in my soup, anything where a bit of briny flavor would be welcome. It's pretty delicious. I'll leave the more technical and fancy uses to other MeFites, but for the very basics and getting used to where the flavor fits powdered kelp might be a good start.
posted by WidgetAlley at 10:19 AM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

A lot of what you are going to run into in Asian groceries are large sheets of generic kelp-like seaweed. Make sure to rinse it well as it is often coated with things like sand or even small pebbles!

Once rinsed, you can cut into strips, soak in hot water then cool, drain, and slice finely to make seaweed salad.

This kind of seaweed (and specifically Kombu, if you can find it) is wonderful to add to beans although I've never seen it added to lentils, mostly white beans or pintos (ideally cooked from dry).

Then there is the large puffy sheets called laver, very similar in flavor and texture to Nori. This is tasty toasted and eaten on its own or crumbled over dishes to add a little salty flavor.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:22 AM on February 14, 2012

I used to add wakame to my lentils. Thanks for reminding me, because it was delicious and inexpensive!
posted by jbenben at 10:28 AM on February 14, 2012

Hijiki is a kind of seaweed that you soak before cooking. It smells kind of briny and rank while it is soaking, but it has a pleasant smoky taste. I have put it in a bunch of stirfrys, but I bet you could add it to various sauces and bean dishes, too.

On second read, that wikipedioa article suggests there may be arsenic contamination in the commercial supply, so, maybe more research is in order.....
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:34 AM on February 14, 2012

Many Japanese dishes use seaweed or are seaweed-flavored. Miso soup, among other things, uses dashi soup stock, which is made with kombu (kelp). Miso soup is goooooood.
posted by nicebookrack at 10:37 AM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I often add a strip of kelp into the pot when I boil chickpeas to make hummus. It gets blended up with everything else and gives the hummus a certain subtle extra deliciousness.
posted by fancyoats at 10:42 AM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Hijiki and wakame are both magnificent in rice, either fried or just crumbled into the rice cooker with the rice.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:55 AM on February 14, 2012

I cook quinoa, and when it's done and still hot, I sprinkle it with soy sauce, ponzu sauce, chili oil and serve topped with avocado and seaweed strips. It's like a delicious deconstructed California roll.
posted by tatiana131 at 11:03 AM on February 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

We do Kombu in all of our beans, including lentils, because it's alleged to have all sorts of magical properties, including doing something with the gas producing whatevers. I don't know about all of those assertions, but I like the flavors.

Love the rest of the suggestions, but I'm gonna take this one way out into left field: Chondrus crispus, aka Irish moss, from which Carageenan is derived (without, apparently, much processing at all), is an essential part of many "raw food" desserts. The various Cafe Gratitude cookbooks are staples in our house when I have too much time on my hands, and those desserts are way way yummy.

And, I thought I'd also mention that seaweed snacks in remarkably similar packaging and size to the Trader joe's ones are available at our local hole in the stripmall Asian grocery. Saving money's just a bonus over trying to communicate with the cute grandparently couple that runs that place.
posted by straw at 11:11 AM on February 14, 2012

Make your own furikake and put it on your rice or lentils! Or buy some pre-mixed - I've seen this brand in US stores.
posted by bubukaba at 11:35 AM on February 14, 2012

One of my favorite meals is soba noodles and pressed tofu with seaweed in miso broth. So good, and nobody else in the house likes it so I get to have the leftovers for lunch.
posted by headnsouth at 11:39 AM on February 14, 2012

Wakame is awesome in miso soup and ramen broth. Just drop it in straight from the package and let it reconstitute itself in the hot liquid. Shredded nori is also tasty over rice or tofu, especially with soy sauce and toasted flax seeds.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:25 PM on February 14, 2012

Best answer: Since you already know about the Trader Joe's seaweed squares, you may like this snack. Just use the seaweed snack squares as you would a pita, and fill them with hummus. You just use a knife or spoon to plop on about a teaspoon's worth of hummus right in the middle of the square and then fold it like a taco. You can easily bite it in half, so it's not messy. My whole family loves this as a snack. They especially like the cilantro jalapeno hummus with the wasabi seaweed squares.
posted by Rapunzel1111 at 5:59 PM on February 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

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