People who love Japanese food should know very well the importance of Nori. Nori is a seaweed paper that’s one of the main ingredients in many Japanese dishes and plays a vital in a healthy diet being rich in protein, fiber as well as vitamins and minerals.
Originally produced using the edo-era paper making method, the Nori of today is mostly made in factories. Interestingly, more than 600 square kilometers of Japan’s coastal waters are dedicated to growing seaweed.
Nori is a main ingredient of the famous sushi. However, not many people know that this edible seaweed sheet has varied uses such as wrapping and decorating Japanese food.
As a Wrap
Onigiri. This is the Japanese version of a sandwich. It is made of rice wrapped in nori and meant to be eaten by hand. While nori is normally flaky and can easily be broken, it becomes strong when it absorbs the water from the cooked rice.
Mochi. Did you know that nori is also used in mochi? Yes, it is used to wrap a toasted or grilled mochi.
Temaki. This is another version of sushi but this time, it’s rolled into a cone shape. This sushi is the home version because people just lay out the ingredients on the nori and simply rolls them into a cone shape instead of making a roll.
Apart from being used in wrapping food, nori is also often used as topping for soups and other dishes. It can be crushed or sliced as strips.
Takoyaki. This Japanese pancake is shaped as a ball with octopus as one of its main ingredients. Nori flakes are used as topping depending on a person’s preference.
Okonomiyaki. This is another kind of pancake but mostly made up of leftovers. An optional topping for this are the nori flakes.
Mentaiko Spaghetti. This Japanese dish uses spaghetti noodles with mentaiko or marinated pollock roe. Nori strips are used as topping.
Agedashi Dofu. This light broth contains tofu that’s deep fried and topped with nori strips.
Ramen. As for ramen which is made of noodles, the nori is sliced into small squares and used as topping for the soup.
Kyaraben. This is bento with design featuring cute characters or picture. Nori is used here as a decorative food in creating a specific character. Bento is popular in Japan and has encouraged moms and dads to create an attractive lunch for their schoolchildren.
Zaru Soba. This is chilled soba served on a bamboo tray and then topped with nori strips. Along with this dish, a light tsuyu dipping sauced as well as wasabi, ginger and negi are served on the side.
Furikake. This dish is made of rice together with vegetable and fish flakes. In some varities, nori flakes are added together with the rice seasoning.
About the Nori Seaweed
Nori is actually the Japanese name for edible seaweed. Traditionally, the seaweed paper is created through a shredding and rack-drying process similar to that of making the real paper product. The process and production of nori is considered an advanced form of agriculture.
The average size of a nori sheet is 18 centimeters by 20 centimeters and weighs 3 grams. Each year, some 350,000 tonnes of this product worth more than a billion dollars are produced by Japan. China is also a known producer of nori but only makes a third of Japan’s total production.
It was around 987 when nori was acknowledged as a food. During that time, it was consumed in the form of a paste. The sheet or paper form was invented later at around 1750 during the Edo period in Asakusa, Edo.