All About Japan

Seaweed Pairings

Food & Drink Sushi Japanese Food Umami Deeper Japan Healthy Japanese Food Okinawa

The high nutritional content, unique texture and subtle taste of seaweed has made it a staple in Japanese cuisine. Seaweed is, however, a catchall term that doesn't do the different types of "sea vegetable" justice. Plus, there's usually a specific type of seaweed that goes best with particular dishes and Japanese diners have helped us work it out.

'Umi Budo' & Salads

'Umi Budo' & Salads

Umi budo, which literally means sea grapes, is a type of seaweed that is commonly eaten in Okinawa. It owes its name to its succulent texture and the way the fronds (fruit-like edible portions) grow on the stolons (vine-like stems). Umi budo is usually served as a side dish with soy sauce, or as a salad garnish.

'Nori' & Sushi

This sheet of seaweed used for sushi rolls is commonly referred to as nori in Japan. The first stage of nori production involves farming red algae (Pyropia) in the sea. Pyropia grows quickly and are ready for harvest within 45 days from the seedling stage. Once harvested, the seaweed is processed with automated machines that shred and press it into thin sheets. Nori is most commonly used for sushi rolls or as garnish, so it's best to keep them crisp and dry by storing them in airtight containers.

'Kombu' & 'Dashi'

Kombu is a type of edible kelp of the genus Laminariaceae. Although it is rarely sold in non-Asian supermarkets, it's one of the most consumed seaweed varieties in Japan. Kombu is used as a basic ingredient for flavoring and making dashi (soup stock) because it contains relatively high amounts of glutamic acid, an amino acid responsible for the the umami, or savory, taste.

And if you're looking for another healthy way to get the healthy vitamins and minerals from kombu, give this kelp water recipe a try.

'Wakame' & Miso Soup

'Wakame' & Miso Soup

Wakame is a type of brown algae of the genus Undaria. It has been farmed in Japan since the Nara Period (710-794) and continues to be widely grown in the country. It has a silky smooth texture when moist and is most commonly added to miso soup or salads. It's also known to be great for your skin.