When I would go to the beach as a kid, I would sometimes emerge from the water with these slimy, smelly plants around my ankles. I used to see that and think it was gross. Now I see seaweed and think about recipes to use it in.
Cooking with sea veggies is still a new concept for some people. Sure, we eat it when we dine on vegan sushi and maybe even add a few kelp flakes to a vegan “fish” recipe. For most people, sea veggies are not an item on their weekly shopping list. They’ve been used for thousands of years in Asian cooking and now they are gaining in popularity and becoming easier to find in mainstream grocery stores. If you’re not sure about how to cook with seaweed or if you even want to, I’m here to help you conquer your fear of sea veggies and encourage you to try cooking with them at home.
1. What are Sea Veggies?
You’re probably wondering what the difference is between seaweed and sea veggies. The answer is there is no difference. The term “sea vegetables” has become more popular as the term “seaweed” brings up negative connotations, much like how I thought about it as a child. Besides, who wants to see the word “algae” on a menu? Sea veggies include many marine algae varieties found in the water and along the coast. Sea veggies come in red, green, brown and yellow colors and multiple varieties. Seaweed can be eaten raw or cooked and add a salty, umami flavor to foods. To learn more, read All You Ever Wanted to Know About Sea Vegetables: Kelps, Noris, Oh My!
2. Health Benefits
Before we get to how to cook with sea veggies, let’s look at why we should. Seaweed is considered a superfood. The oldest plant family on Earth, sea vegetables are packed with more nutrients than any other plant. They have been used for centuries to treat many health problems. Sea veggies are a great source of iodine, vitamins A, C, E and B vitamins. They are filled with antioxidants and have detoxification and antibiotic properties. Sea veggies are also rich in protein, calcium, magnesium and fiber. To learn even more about the health benefits of sea veggies, see Seaweed Decoded: Why It’s Essential on a Vegan Diet.
3. Cooking with Sea Veggies
How you use sea veggies depends on the type of seaweed you’re using. There are well over 10,000 types of seaweed. Most need to be rehydrated so they can be added easily to soups. Nori, used to wrap sushi, can be eaten dry. Seaweed can be added to salads like this Easy Seaweed Salad and this Seaweed Salad with Toasted Sesame Dressing. It can also be fried or dehydrated to make crispy snacks or added to stir-fries. Let’s look at how to use the most common types of seaweed.
Nori, a type of red algae, is the one you’re probably most familiar with. It’s the flaky, dark green seaweed used to wrap sushi. It’s also used as a garnish on salads and in miso soup. It’s usually sold in full sheets for sushi wrapping. Learn How to Make a Nori Roll and then try these Super Easy Nori Hand Rolls With Avocado Dressing, Nori Wrap With Sweet Potato, Avocado and Miso Dressing, and these Unbelievably Raw Vegan Nori Wraps with Spicy Dipping Sauce. Nori has also become popular as a toasted snack to eat like chips. Try these Raw Vegan Noritos to try it yourself.
Wakame is usually used in salads and miso soups. It is sold dried and needs to be rehydrated. The taste is mildly sweet. Try it in these Spring Rolls with Wakame and Kabocha Squash Stuffed With Black Rice, Kale and Wakame. It is also used in this recipe for Vegan “Fish” Sauce.
Dulse is a red sea veggie sold in flakes. It’s used in soups, stir-fries and I use it a lot to add that “fishy” flavor to my vegan seafood dishes. Use dulse in this Garden and Sea Pate, ‘Crab’ Cakes with Green Tartar Sauce, and Chickpea ‘Tuna’ Salad.
Arame is a dark brown seaweed that is sold dehydrated. It has a semi-sweet flavor and can be used on salads or in stir-fries. Use arame in this Spicy Asian Cucumber Avocado Onion Salad and in this Delicious No-Bone Broth.
Kelp is one of the more commonly eaten sea veggies. It can be added to any recipe for a salty, umami flavor. Kelp flakes are used in this Tempeh ‘Fish’ N’ Chips with Tartar Sauce and in these Vegan Tofu Scallops. It can also be eaten in the form of kelp noodles. You’ll love these Kelp Noodles in Peanut-Miso Sauce and Vegan Chili Kelp Noodles.
Spirulina is a deep sea green algae and is considered a superfood. It is high in protein, B-vitamins and antioxidants as well as other nutrients. In fact, spirulina contains so many vitamins and minerals, it is like taking a complete multivitamin. You can buy spirulina in powder or tablet form. Check out The Top 5 Reasons You Need More Spirulina in Your Life and How to Sneak Spirulina into Tasty Recipes for a Nutrient Boost. Try it in this Tropical Green Spirulina Smoothie, Six Ingredient Spirulina Snackies and this Vegan Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream.
Agar-Agar is commonly used in vegan baking and in making vegan cheeses because of its thickening properties. It is sold in flake or solid form and unlike other algae, appears white. Use agar agar in this Almost Raw Panna Cotta Cream, Almond and Chamomile Panna Cotta, Vegan Rice Krispie Treats and Sliceable Vegan Cashew Cheese.
Now that you know all about sea veggies, how good they are for you and all the delicious recipes they can be used in, it’s time to grow your sea legs and jump in to the deep end. Before you know it, you’ll be cooking with sea veggies all the time.
Lead image source: Super Easy Nori Hand Rolls With Avocado Dressing