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Sea Vegetables

Synonyms:  seaweeds = algae = marine algae

Most of us unknowingly eat processed sea vegetables every day.  Manufacturers use them as thickeners and stabilizers in such products as ice cream, instant pudding, whipped toppings, salad dressings, and even toothpaste.  But unprocessed sea vegetables haven't caught on much outside of Asia.  It's a shame, since they're dense with vitamins, minerals, and protein, yet low in calories.  You can usually find plastic bags of dehydrated sea vegetables in health food stores, or in the Asian foods section of larger supermarkets.  After rehydrating, chop them up and add them to salads, soups, stews, or stir-fries.  




arame  Notes:   This popular seaweed is very sweet and mild, and it's loaded with iron, calcium, and iodine.      Substitutes:   hijiki (similar, but not as sweet or mild) OR wakame OR kombu OR dulse 

dulse  Notes:    This is a salty seaweed, so it makes a great salt substitute in soups and stews.  Some people eat it raw, like beef jerky.  It's rich in iron.   Substitutes: wakame OR arame OR hijiki OR sea lettuce



hair vegetable = black moss = hair seaweed = hair-like vegetable = fat choy  Notes:  The Chinese add this to soups and use it as a garnish.  Look for it in Chinese markets and pharmacies.

hijiki = hiziki  Notes:   Hijiki has a mild flavor, so it's a good choice if you want to slip a sea vegetable unobtrusively into your soups and stews in order to fortify them with calcium, iron, and other nutrients.  When rehydrated, it roughly quadruples in size, so a little goes a long way.    Substitutes: arame (This is milder than hijiki, and it doesn't expand as much when rehydrated.) OR dulse

katsuo bushi


konbu = kombu = tangle = sea tangle = oarweed = sea cabbage = kelp   Pronunciation:  KOM-boo  Notes:   Like other sea vegetables, konbu is rich in minerals.  It's very popular in Japan, where it's used to flavor dashi, a soup stock.  Konbu is usually sold dried, in strips or sheets. Choose konbu that's very dark, almost black, and don't wipe off the white residue that often appears on the surface; it's very flavorful.   Substitutes: monosodium glutamate (as a flavor-booster; use just a dash)


marsh samphire


sushi nori = seaweed sheets = nori  Pronunciation:   SUE-she NOH-ree OR SUE-she NOR-ee  Notes:   These thin dark sheets are used to make sushi.  They're usually a dark purplish-black, but they turn green and acquire a pleasant, nutty flavor when toasted.  You can make your own toasted nori sheets by passing nori sheets over a flame a few times.  Yaki means cooked in Japanese, so pretoasted nori sheets are labeled yaki-nori or yaki sushi nori.   Look for toasted and untoasted sushi nori in the Asian foods section of large supermarkets.   The name nori is also used for laver, the plant that sushi nori is made from.  Unlike sushi nori, laver should be rehydrated before use.  If you can't find sushi nori, one option is to make sushi without a wrapper.  It helps to use plastic wrap to shape the roll.   Substitutes:   soybean paper (This also makes a good wrapper for sushi.)


laver = purple laver = purple seaweed = nori = redware  Pronunciation:  LAY-ver  Notes:    This protein-rich seaweed is popular in Britain and Japan.  To rehydrate, soak it in water for about an hour, then add it to soups and salads.  Laver is sometimes called nori, but that name is more commonly used for the dark sheets that the Japanese use to wrap sushi, which are made from the same plant.   Substitutes:   sushi nori


salted seaweed = nama wakame   Notes:  Nama wakame is Japanese for "raw seaweed."  Look for bags of this heavily salted seaweed in Japanese or Korean markets.



purple laver

purple seaweed

rock samphire  Shopping hints:  This is more commonly found in Europe than in the United States.  Substitutes:  seabean



seabean = sea green bean = pousse-pierre = passe-pierre = pousse-pied = salicornia = glasswort = samphire = marsh samphire = sea pickle   Notes:   These crisp, salty sprigs make terrific garnishes.  They're sometimes available fresh in the summer.   If not, look for a pickled version in specialty food shops.   Substitutes: rock samphire (available in Europe) OR capers (not as crunchy)    

sea green bean

sea lettuce Substitutes: wakame OR dulse

sea pickle

sea vegetables = seaweeds

wakame = alaria  Pronunciation:  wah-KAH-may  Notes:   This has a sweet flavor, and it's rich in calcium.  It's often rehydrated and then added to miso soup or sautéed as a side dish.  Dry wakame can also be toasted and crumbled over salads and other dishes.  It's very high in calcium.   Substitutes: sea lettuce OR dulse OR arame



Copyright © 1996-2005 Lori Alden