Sea Vegetables (Information from Laurel's Kitchen by L. Robertson, C.
Flinders, and B. Ruppenthal)
Note: There are pollution problems in some areas so it is suggested we buy
from domestic growers, such as those whose sea vegetables farms are in Maine.
Available in health food stores.
In Scotland dulse is used to make a cream soup - Americans eat a lot of
seaweed--mostly derivatives like agar, algine, and in carrageenan that are
used as thickeners in convenience foods. Agar, for example, offers a
vegetarian alternative to gelatin. Nori, the thin black wrapper around
sushi, can be lightly roasted over a flame to make a blameless snack food
that children enjoy.
Kombu is a member of the kelp family, whose special talent is making soup
stock. It contains glutamic acid, the nautral version of MSG. Added to
beans, it reduces cooking time and may help to prevent flatulence.
Hijiki is black, piney-looking, and exotic. Its hearty, salty marine flavor
tastes best with sweet vegetables like carrot, squash, and onion, or with
Arame is fibrous and needs to be soaked before using.
Wakame is green and leafy and has a mild flavor close to that of leafy land
vegetables. Like kombu, it tenderizes foods cooked with it.
Dulse is salty and makes a good snack food right of the bag. It comes in
thin sheets and has a beautiful purple color.
Nori has been cultivated by the Japanese for three hundred years, and was
collected wild before that. The characteristic thin black sheets have a high
concentration of nutrients, though the amounts are very small. Nori can be
eaten as is, but is is usually toasted over a flame. You can cut it up and
float it in miso broth as an instant snack. To preserve flavor, store
Agar also known as agar-agar or kanten, is a seaweed derivative that works
like a gelatin to make moldend salads and aspics or can replace eggs in
thickening anything that doesn't have to be served hot. Aga comes in bars,
granules or flakes, the flakes being the easiest to us. Unlike gelatin,
which has to be chilled, agar thickens at 98 degrees F and has nearly no
Many sea vegetables (particularly nori) can be toasted and then crushed or
rolled into a flaky powder to use in the salt shaker. Nori has much less
sodium than table salt, but equals it in flavoring strength: much of its
salty flavor comes from potassium rather than sodium.