In recent years, the West has surrendered to the virtues of seaweed, an important food in other countries. There are many edible seaweed: Hijiki, wakame, nori, Agar-Agar, Dulse, Kombu, Arame, Cochayuyo. Its taste, its texture and its many nutritional virtues are among the reasons why we invite to join it in our table.
After oriental culture, in particular Japan, it has gained popularity in Western countries. This popularity has been in all fields, and the cuisine was no exception.
One of the biggest benefits of this expansion is a healthy food habit of consuming algae. This practice is strongly rooted in Japan, the territory with greater per capita consumption of algae, which can reach up to 25% of the diet. The Japan is also the largest producer and exporter in the world for this product.
Although these are becoming increasingly common in restaurants and specialty shops, a large proportion of the population does not know exactly what they are. Well, we can say that the algae are like the sea vegetables, i.e., plants that grow in water, both fresh and saltwater. And
seem somewhat strange and unfamiliar, as alien to our world, have the same cycles that land plants. That is, grow, reproduce and die, without having to speak for this sowing, transplanting, fertilizer, irrigation...
But we must be clear that not all the algae that we are at sea can be used in food. In fact, only some 50 species are edible, of the total of 25,000 hitherto known.
One reason for the differentiation among species is that over 2,000 million years of life have evolved and diversified to adapt to different ecological circumstances of their habitat, or the sea.
Here are the most important edible seaweed:
Nori: ( marine ova, laver, Slok, slake ) rich in protein and provitamin A, combines well with fried foods. Alga has easy preparation and versatility in the kitchen. It is essential in oriental dishes such as sushi, rice balls, tasty snacks and nice flavor to cereals, pastas and soups. A previously roasted or several leaves of nori, passing just a gentle flame, until it is crisp, fragrant aroma of fine and pleasant taste. Undo with hands and sprinkle with seasoning and the dish.
Kombu Nishime ( wrack, tangled, carweed ): provides iodine, potassium and gives flavor, softens and sweetens. Helps remove cholesterol. Favors the control of blood pressure. Streamlines the work of the intestines and facilitates the absorption of strontium and cadmium. To use it we must leave to soak 5 to 10 minutes and simmer 15 to 20 minutes. Ideal to cook with vegetables and cereals.
Wakame Ito: It cleans and strengthens the blood. Rich in highly digestible protein and minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and iodine, and contain fiber. Used with miso soup, is appropriate for the preparation of post-partum. Before using soak 15 minutes, chop and boil 15 to 20 minutes. Add to salads, soups, vegetables, potatoes, rice, oats, millet, polenta, grits, etc.. Also sautéed with onion pasta, pies, pizzas, quiches, etc.
Hizikia (hijiki): It is distinguished by its distinctive flavor. It is rich in provitamin A and has a high content of iron and calcium (14 times more calcium than cow's milk). Recommended for children and pregnant mothers. Before cooking put to soak in cold water 15 to 20 minutes, rinse and cook 20 min. It is delicious sautéed with vegetables, tofu or seitan, or added to salads. Combines well with plant roots (beet, carrot).
Arame: Mild, delicate flavor and soft texture. Rich in calcium, phosphorus, iodine and other minerals and vitamins A, B1 and B2. It promotes blood circulation which will easily overcome the cold winter. Before cooking, soak in cold water for 8 to 10 min. then drain. It is delicious sautéed with onions, carrots and tofu, or simply boiled and soaked and added to salads.
Alari (wing kelp, murlins, dabberlocks) is rich in vitamins and minerals, is used as an ingredient in soups.
Cochayuyo: The cochayuyo alga that is an edible seaweed from Chile and other sub-areas. Can measure up to 15 meters and for centuries has served as food for many Native American communities. Its scientific name is Duvillaea antarctic and belongs to the botanical family of the Phaeophyta or brown algae. The alga cochayuyo is very easy to prepare. It is usually consumed cooked by boiling for fifteen or twenty minutes, leaving it to drain. Then you'll be ready to incorporate it in salad, soup, stew or as a star ingredient in the vegetarian paella.
Dulse (Dulce): It is the most famous in the North Atlantic and is said the Celtic and Viking used it warriors on their voyages. Red alga is the richest in iron so it is recommended in cases of anemia. It has a high content of magnesium, potassium, iodine and phosphorus. It is the second richest in protein, after the nori. Just keep it to soak for a few minutes to add to salads. Combines well with cooked cereal.
Agar-agar (kanten Shiro ): rich in soluble fiber, is a soft gelatin and nutritious. It is very nutritious. Contains sodium, calcium and lesser Phosphorus, Iron and Iodine. Its great digestive properties help remove waste from the stomach and intestine. Helps constipation, is effective in dissolving cholesterol, ideal weight loss diets for its power supply and low in calories. It can be used as a natural thickener. To make jelly, simmer over low heat, stirring until dissolved 8 tablespoons agar-agar per half a liter of liquid. Great for making, desserts, jams, puddings, mixing the liquid and boiled with desired ingredients. For salads, soak for 20 min. and serve.
Carrageen: The Irish moss ( irish moss or moss Carrageen in English, scientific name Chondrus crispus is a red algae (Phylum Rhodophyta )) very abundant, sometimes form carpets of grass, still on rocky surfaces. It is in all the Atlantic coast of Europe and North America. It is rich in complex carbohydrates, potassium and calcium. Exploit the complex polysaccharides of mucilage, which form the bulk of your weight once dried.
Spirulina: a microalga rich in protein and amino acids. It is usually sold in tablets. It is a unicellular alga that grows and multiplies in natural waters in alkaline medium. The name Spirulina is derived from the Latin word for "spiral or helix", which refers to its physical configuration. It is called blue-green algae by the presence of chlorophyll which gives the green and phycocianina which gives the color blue. I t contains 65 to 70% of vegetable protein with all essential amino acids in perfect balance and only 7 % fat. The spirulina has a high concentration of beta carotene, ten times more than carrots. It is the only food other than breast milk that contains gamma linolenic acid (GLA)
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