Want to add some natural umami goodness to your stews, soups and salads? Give it some seaweed! This Future 50 Food’s briny bite not only adds texture but works as a healthy alternative to salt – it contains much lesser sodium, with just as much flavour!
You may have come across laver seaweed in Japanese cuisine, where it’s most commonly used for wrapping sushi or bringing out the umami flavour in plant-based dishes. But this edible seaweed is equally popular in Korea, where it is eaten dried as a savoury snack, and in the UK, especially in Wales, where it’s used to make laverbread, a dish in which the fresh seaweed is slow-cooked, seasoned and traditionally served with hot, buttered toast.
Wakame is another type of edible seaweed. Most commonly sold dried and then rehydrated, wakame has a savoury flavour and satin-like texture. It can be chopped and added to soups or fried and thrown into salads, stir-fries, and side dishes. You can also sprinkle dried wakame seaweed on oven baked root vegetables, sweet tomatoes or crispy kale chips.
Seaweed Health Benefits
Is seaweed healthy? In short, yes. The nutritional value of seaweed makes it a worthy addition to your cooking regime. One 100g portion of laver seaweed contains a third of your daily requirements of vitamins - A, B2, vitamin C and minerals - iodine, and manganese, which help support your immune system and keep you healthy, whilst the iodine found in seaweed helps to support thyroid function.
In addition to containing a variety of vitamins and minerals, wakame seaweed is one of the few plant-based sources of omega 3 fatty acid EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), which is found almost exclusively in fatty fish that feed on algae.
How is Seaweed Produced?
Seaweed grows naturally in oceans and marine environments around the world, and can be harvested directly from its natural environment. However, seaweed farming produces much of the world’s edible seaweed crop today. Farmers will typically cultivate seaweed on ropes to closely monitor the growth and promote a healthy harvest.
Edible seaweed cultivation has been suggested to be a game-changer in the food system. Because it lives in the water, seaweed can be grown and harvested throughout the year and does not require pesticides or fertilizers – which supports the water’s biological balance.
How To Cook Seaweed
Many seaweed recipes don’t require much cooking at all as most edible seaweed comes in a dehydrated form that is best rehydrated in cool water for a few minutes for best results.
- Preparing dried seaweed: If you buy the dried kind, simply wash and soak the seaweed in a large bowl of warm water until it is tender. Most seaweed will only take a few minutes (about 3 minutes) to become tender.
- Cooking salted seaweed: For the salted kind of seaweed, you can just simply wash and cook in boiling water for 2 minutes.
- How to prepare fresh seaweed: All it needs is a good rinse before serving.
Seaweed pairs well with savory, creamy foods like avocado, or mixed into dips and sauces like tahini or hummus. You can also eat it with crisp veggies like cucumber or enjoy it alongside fish and smoked salmon with miso paste and soy sauce.
One of the most complimentary and delicious ingredients to eat with seaweed is sesame seeds. The flavours pair perfectly, so if you’re not sure where to start including edible seaweed in your diet, these sesame seed recipes will inspire you:
- Add some fresh seaweed to this delicious Marinated Korean Pork recipe. It’s not too complicated but will definitely impress your dinner guests!
- Seaweed is a delicious addition to stir fries. Add it to this Honey Ginger Pork Stir Fry recipe, a deliciously low-fat rice dish with a great mix of Asian flavours. It makes the perfect midweek supper!
- Soups are a great place to start including seaweed in your kitchen resume. Simply cook seaweed in this simple Tom Yum Soup with Shrimp recipe – a guaranteed crowd pleaser.
Good for you and good for the planet, it’s no wonder why we included edible seaweed on our list of Future 50 Foods, a list of 50 ingredients we believe we should be eating more of, because of their advantages to our health, but also how they benefit our planet.
For more inspiration on how to cook with seaweed and to discover some new recipes, download the Knorr Future 50 Foods cookbook for free!