The World's Healthiest Foods

Cooking Healthy with Sea Vegetables

How to Select

Look for sea vegetables that are sold in tightly sealed packages. Avoid those that have evidence of excessive moisture. Some types of sea vegetables are sold in different forms. For example, nori can be found in sheets, flakes, or powder. Choose the form of sea vegetable that will best meet your cooking needs. Store sea vegetables in tightly sealed containers at room temperature; they'll stay fresh for at least several months.

The most popular sea vegetables include:

Nori: Dark purple-black color that turns phosphorescent green when toasted, famous for its role in making sushi rolls. Also sold in single, slightly sweetened, toasted strips for snacking-a convenient form to add to your lunch box or briefcase. Simply crumble and use to season soup, salads, etc.

Kelp: Light brown to dark green in color, oftentimes available in flake form. Also sold in powdered form and makes a great seasoning to have on the table.

Hijiki*: Looks like small strands of black wiry pasta and has a strong flavor. Great simply soaked and served raw in Asian-flavored salads.

Kombu: Very dark in color and generally sold in strips or sheets, oftentimes used as a flavoring for soups. To greatly enhance beans' digestibility and prevent flatulence, add a strip of kombu to the pot when cooking beans.

Wakame: Green and silky when soaked. Most commonly used to make Japanese miso soup.

Arame: This lacy, wiry sea vegetable is sweeter and milder in taste than many others, and can be integrated in salads as well as hijiki.

Dulse: Soft, chewy texture and a reddish-brown color. A great addition to soups.

Preparation

Dulse: Dulse can usually be added to your recipe without soaking first. Just rinse quickly under cool running water. Using a rocking motion with your Chef's knife, chop to the size desired.

Hijiki: Place hijiki in a small strainer and rinse. Place in a bowl of warm water and soak for about 5 minutes. Srain and rinse again. Chop to the desired size.

Kombu: Rinse first under running water for a short time then place in warm water until soft. Kombu usually takes about 10-15 minutes to soften. Chop and add to your recipe.

Wakame: Rinse under cool running water for a short time then soak in a bowl of warm water. Wakame softens fairly quickly, about 5-7 minutes. Chop and add to your recipe.

Special Cooking Tips:

The water becomes very nutritious and flavorful from soaking the sea vegetables and can be used in the recipe you are making. To gain maximum flavor and nutriton, use no more water to soak your sea vegetables than can be incorporated into the recipe.

Healthy Cooking for Sea Vegetables:

Hijiki: Hijiki needs no cooking. Just rinse and soak in warm water until soft. Rinse again and add to your salad or stir-fry at the end of cooking.

Kombu: Add chopped kombu and simmer for at least 10 minutes before adding any other sea vegetables to your soup, as kombu takes longer to cook. Cook for at least 20 minutes.

Wakame: Wakame softens quickly and takes very little time to cook. Chop and add to your soup, and cook for only 5-10 minutes.

Nori: Nori can usually be bought already toasted. If it is not, toast in a 350 degree oven for about 1-2 minutes, or hold a sheet about 1 inch above the flame of your stove with a pair of tongs for about 2 minutes or until the nori changes color from dark purple-black to phosphorescent green.

Quick Serving Ideas

Hijiki is a wonderful addition to salads. Try it tossed with Chinese cabbage, soy sauce, ginger, lemon juice and olive oil.

Dulse, kombu and wakame are very nutritious additions to soup. Try adding them to a simple miso broth for a very quick, healthy soup.

Keep a container of kelp flakes on the table mixed with garlic powder and white pepper to add extra nutriiton as well as seasoning to your food.

Following are some of my recipes that include these wonderful super foods.

*The safety factors regarding sea vegetables, such as hijiki