Posts Tagged ‘nutritional value’

Seaweed in the Restaurant

January 24, 2013

When most people think of seaweed, they picture wraps of nori around a sushi roll and leave it at that. But actually, there are many types of “sea vegetables,” each with distinct and versatile uses. Chefs around the country are getting creative with these multipurpose greens (or reds, or browns as the case may be), and customers are loving it.

Seaweed has Excellent Nutritional Value

Although there are many types of seaweeds, each with distinctive taste and texture, all forms of edible seaweed are high in nutritional value with many of the same benefits as land vegetables. Most seaweed is high in essential amino acids as well as vitamins A and C. They are also one of the few vegetable sources for vitamin B-12. Seaweeds are also rich in potassium, iron, calcium, iodine, and magnesium due to the fact that these minerals are concentrated in sea water.

Seaweed has Health and Medicinal Value as Well

Seaweed has many medicinal and health benefits as well. It has long been used as a healthy substitute for salt and has recently been touted as useful for weight control.  When eaten as part of a meal, seaweed can help regulate and balance blood sugar levels because it is a soluble fiber which helps to slow the rate of digestion.

Seaweed has also shown anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects on animals, and numerous individuals have used it to reduce or eliminate the amount of medication needed to manage thyroid problems.

What are the Best Types of Seaweed to Use?

The six most commonly used seaweeds in restaurants are wakame, nori, kombu, dulse, sea beans, and Irish moss. Also known as sea mustard, wakame is the most common seaweed used in miso soup. It has a salty-sweet zest and swells up significantly when soaked in water, so a little goes a long way. It is commonly known as the ‘woman’s seaweed’ because it is loaded with osteoporosis-preventing calcium and magnesium and acts as a diuretic which helps to reduce bloating.

Nori is most commonly used to wrap sushi and seafood, but it can also be chopped up into little bits to flavor soup, casseroles, rice, and grains. Nori is one of the richest sources of protein amongst marine flora, and one sheet has as much fiber as a cup of spinach and more omega-3 fatty acids than a cup of avocado.

Kombu is a leafy kelp with a full-bodied, savory flavor. It is most commonly used to make dashi broth, a common stock base for many traditional Japanese dishes. It is a prized source of iodine and alginic acid which helps break down tough cellulose fiber and make foods more digestible.

Dulse or dillisk is a red algae that is often eaten dried and uncooked though it can also be added to soups, casseroles, and salads to enhance flavor. Flash frying chunks of dulse is a quick and easy way to create delicious seaweed crisps that can be used as pre-dinner appetizers.

Sea beans or sea asparagus has a bright green appearance and firm texture. It can be used raw, blanched, or boiled to add a crunchy, sea-salt flavor to food and is especially tasty in meat or fish dishes.

Last but not least, Irish moss is used as a clarifying agent for beer. If soaked, it can also act as a binding agent for sweets. In Scotland and Ireland, it’s strained to make a delicious tapioca-style dessert.

As you can see, seaweeds are an incredibly versatile and multifunctional source of food. It’s no wonder restaurantsaround the country are finding creative ways to put it to use!