Seaweed is a funny thing, isn’t it? I mean, it’s a salt-water-dwelling marine algae. Who would have ever thought that people would eat it? But interestingly, it’s been a staple in many cultures’ diets for a long time.
In fact, Chinese and Japanese cultures have been eating seaweed (and using
it for medicinal purposes) since 300 B.C. And with good reason: seaweed is a great source of vitamin A, C, E, K, and B-vitamins. It’s also rich in many minerals including iodine, selenium, calcium, and iron.
Not to mention, recent studies reveal that the fiber in seaweed may help prevent fat absorption due to the polysaccharide, alginate. And if that isn’t news enough to eat it, other studies have suggested that ingestion of seaweed may reduce the risk of breast cancer due to its anti-estrogenic effects, as well as improve menstrual symptoms.
But with all of those health benefits, you do need to be careful about how much seaweed salad you eat because it can be high in sodium and sugar. I recently had a patient who was downing seaweed salad a few times per week, but couldn’t figure out why she wasn’t losing weight and why she felt so swollen. That’s because 1 cup of seaweed salad has about 130 calories, 25 grams of carbohydrate, 4 grams of sugar, 3 grams of fiber and the real kicker – 900-1200 mg sodium. That’s almost half of a whole day’s worth of sodium in just one cup of seaweed salad. Sodium is an electrolyte that attaches itself to water – the more sodium you eat, the more water you retain which prevents weight loss and increases swelling. Word to the wise – too much of anything is probably not a good thing.
Here are some healthy ways to eat seaweed and reap its many benefits:
Hijiki seaweed looks like black linguine and tastes great as an addition to vegetable stir-fry or tofu dishes. Plus, it will give you a calcium and phosphorous boost and it’s good for bone health.
Nori seaweed is what you’ll typically find at Japanese restaurants in their rolls, soup, and rice balls. It contains high levels of fiber, protein and cancer-fighting lignans.
Because seaweed comes from the sea, it is naturally high in sodium (as mentioned above). For a more heart-friendly seaweed salad, prepare it yourself using low-sodium soy sauce instead of regular and eliminate the salt and sugar. (Ingredients include: wakame seaweed, sesame oil, low-sodium soy sauce, sesame seeds, and rice vinegar)
Like traditional vegetables, seaweed is very low in saturated fat and cholesterol and is high in fiber. Low-fat, high-fiber diets can prevent diabetes and heart-disease and promote weight loss. If you are getting bored of your typical veggies, spice up your life with atypical ones, like seaweed. Sprinkle dried seaweed on top of your favorite vegetables or salad dishes, roast it in the oven on its own and top with some sesame seeds, or stir-fry with mushrooms and bake it on top of your favorite fish. The possibilities are endless!
*Large intakes of seaweed can affect those taking Coumadin or on thyroid
medication so please contact your physician before starting to eat seaweed.
Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a nationally known registered dietitian based in New York and the creator of a proprietary high-fiber nutrition program for weight loss, wellness and for treating various medical conditions. Tanya authored the bestselling weight loss book The F-Factor Diet, and she is the first dietitian with a national line of high-fiber foods, which are sold under the F-Factor name. Become a fan of Tanya on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn, and visit her website Ffactor.com.
- Kelp is on the way
- Is Seaweed Salad Good For You?
- Simple Seaweed Salad Recipe
- The Recipe
- The inspiration
- Is seaweed salad healthy?
- Where to buy Wakame seaweed
- How to use Wakame seaweed
- Low-Carb Seaweed Salad Recipe
- 6 Things to Know About Seaweed
- Is Seaweed Salad Japanese?
- Why Isn’t it Green?
- Types of Edible Seaweed
- Where do I get Seaweed?
- Rehydrating Seaweed
- Seaweed Salad Dressing
- Variations of Seaweed Salad
- Seaweed Salad
- Sharing is Caring
- Where Can You Buy Seaweed?
- Sea Vegetables (Seaweed) are SUPER Foods & Perfect if You are Trying to “Eat Clean”!!
- How Do You Make Asian Seaweed Salad?
- Is Seaweed Salad Healthy?
Kelp is on the way
When seaweed wriggles its way into cookies, crackers, spaghetti – and beer – there’s no doubt that marine algae is having its day.
A growing appetite for seaweed such as kombu, nori and wakame is quickly expanding the world’s seaweed industry, valued at $6.4-billion (U.S.), according to a 2016 report from the United Nations University in Tokyo (based on 2014 data).
Already, global production of seaweed by tonne exceeds that of lemons and limes. Trendcasters from the Atlantic Magazine, Fiscal Times and NPR have declared seaweed “the new kale.”
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Seaweed has achieved delicacy status at high-end restaurants such as Sooke Harbour House on Vancouver Island, which serves it raw, deep-fried, pickled, smoked or wrapped around B.C. halibut. Small businesses have caught the wave, too, adding the versatile ingredient to a wide range of specialty items that make the most of seaweed’s exotic cachet.
Kelp Stout, released in 2014, is a “really good seller,” says Heidi Fifield, retail manager for Tofino Brewing Co., who described the quaff as having a “dark chocolate and sea salt quality.”
Then there’s Kelp Caviar, launched in 2012 by Naor Cohen of Montreal, who wowed business tycoons on CBC’s Dragons’ Den with his fish-free product.
To meet this year’s demand, Cohen produced the equivalent of 150,000, 100-gram jars of pearl-shaped seaweed caviar, in flavours ranging from sturgeon to salmon.
While Asian countries have always held seaweed in high esteem, Western demand for the slippery stuff is driven by the novelty factor and seaweed’s reputation as a “superfood.”
Seaweed, categorized as red, green or brown algae, are high in vitamins, minerals and many other nutrients. Researchers are studying whether seaweed consumption may protect against health conditions ranging from breast cancer to cardiovascular disease. But as with most foods, it’s possible to go overboard on marine algae. Doctors have reported rare but serious cases of excess iodine and heavy metal toxicity in patients who consumed too much seaweed or seaweed supplements.
If you’re keen to add more seaweed to your diet, here’s what experts in the nutrition field have to say about how to enjoy it safely.
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Sea palm (Postelsia palmaeformis): This kelp species grows on the Pacific coast, on rocky shores with constant waves.
Eat small amounts for the health benefits
Seaweed is high in iodine, iron, vitamin C (which aids iron absorption), antioxidants, soluble and insoluble fibre, vitamin K, vitamin B-12 and a range of other nutrients important for human health. Red seaweed such as dulse are high in protein. What’s more, seaweed contain certain compounds not found in terrestrial food sources, including fucoidan, a type of carbohydrate that has anticoagulant and antiviral properties. Numerous studies have linked the Japanese diet – high in fish, seaweed, soya, fruits and vegetables – to lower rates of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, obesity and cancers in general. Studies such as these do not isolate the effects of seaweed from other dietary and lifestyle factors, notes Dr. Mary Hardy, a medical authority on dietary supplements and former medical director of the Integrative Medicine Clinic at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. But based on evidence of seaweed’s disease-fighting potential from cell and animal studies, she says, “I do think this is a nutrient-rich superfood.”
Dulse (Palmaria mollis): A patented strain of dulse developed by aquaculture researcher Chris Langdon at Oregon State University to grow faster than wild dulse.
Stephen Ward, Oregon State University Extension and Experiment Station Communications
A little goes a long way
Think twice before replacing wheat pasta with a big bowl of seaweed “spaghetti” shaped like the real thing. Iodine levels in seaweed vary widely depending on the species and where they are grown, says Vesanto Melina, a registered dietitian and co-author of Becoming Vegan: Comprehensive Edition (and Express Edition). With just 1.5 teaspoons of arame seaweed, for example, “you’ve reached the tolerable upper limit for iodine consumption per day.” Too little iodine can cause thyroid problems, but so can too much, she says, adding that few North Americans are iodine deficient because our table salt is iodized. While seaweed makes up to 10 per cent of the Japanese diet, seaweed is traditionally eaten in combination with vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and soya, which inhibit iodine uptake by the thyroid gland.
Kelp supplements may be helpful for patients with specific health conditions, or those undergoing chemotherapy, but Hardy recommends against taking them without guidance from a health-care professional. Some seaweed are high in vitamin K, which may interfere with blood thinning medications such as warfarin. High potassium levels in seaweed such as dulse may cause nausea and weakness in patients with kidney problems, since their kidneys can no longer remove excess potassium from the body.
Arame (Eisenia bicyclis): A Japanese seaweed variety prepared with onion, peas and carrots.
Consider the source
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Seaweed absorbs essential minerals like a sponge. But depending on where they are grown, they may also soak up environmental toxins and heavy metals. Health authorities have warned against eating hijiki, a Japanese seaweed known to absorb dangerous levels of arsenic. Seaweed companies with organic certification are more likely to harvest seaweed in protected coastal areas, away from heavy shipping channels and effluent sites, Hardy says. Wild seaweed may be more nutritious than farmed, she adds, since “we’re not completely sure if we lose something in that transition from the wild to the aquaculture environment.”
Watch for additives
If you are wary of food dyes, don’t gorge on the brilliant green seaweed salad served at Japanese restaurants (its true colour is mousy brown). Packaged seaweed snacks – those addictive wafers of oiled nori (also called laver) – typically have loads of sodium added to a naturally salty food, so look for lightly salted varieties. And if you have digestive problems, stay clear of products such as ice cream and yogurts that include carrageenan in the ingredient list. While carrageenan is derived from seaweed (Irish moss), carrageenan gum is a heavily processed food additive that researchers have linked to inflammation in the gut.
The best way to eat seaweed is to add small amounts to everyday foods, Hardy says. “If you have miso soup with seaweed in it, that’s a traditional way to use it.”
Seven seaweeds to try
Soaked arame looks like brown shoelaces and has a mild, almost sweet flavour. Add it to edamame beans, or stir-fried Japanese soba noodles with shiitake mushrooms.
This purple-red seaweed is easy to find on the East Coast. Nova Scotians snack on it dry from the bag, or buy it in flakes to sprinkle on soups. Pan-fried until crisp, dulse has a bacon-like flavour. BonAppetit.com suggests slapping it between two slices of bread with lettuce, tomato and mayo to make a “DLT.”
Wakame (Undaria pinnatifida): This Asian kelp (an invasive species on California shores) was scanned by Josie Iselin, author of An Ocean Garden: The Secret Life of Seaweed.
If you have sipped miso soup, you have probably tried this rubbery seaweed. Julie Drucker of Yemaya Seaweed Co. recommends serving soaked and sliced wakame with a dressing of garlic, ginger, honey, sesame seed oil and tamari.
Named for its palm-like fronds, this mild, almost nutty-tasting kelp grows only on wave-washed rocks on the West Coast of North America. For a light salty snack, coat it with olive oil and garlic and bake in a medium oven for 10 minutes until crunchy.
Kombu (Laminaria setchellii): ollected in Cambria, Calif., and scanned by Josie Iselin, author of An Ocean Garden: The Secret Life of Seaweed.
A natural source of umami, the “fifth taste” in Asian cuisine, kombu is the main ingredient in Japanese dashi soup. The Okinawans of centenarian fame eat more kombu per household than anywhere else in the world (mainly in dashi soup). Powdered kombu is a natural substitute for the artificial flavour enhancer MSG (monosodium glutamate).
Nori (Porphyra umbilicalis): Nori is typically shredded and rack-dried in a process that resembles paper-making. This specimen was scanned by Josie Iselin, author of An Ocean Garden: The Secret Life of Seaweed.
The papery wrapping for sushi rolls is never soaked before serving. Eat it toasted, or wrap a nori sheet around a ball of rice stuffed with salmon-mayo filling to make DIY onigiri – the on-the-go snack sold in Japanese convenience stores.
Irish moss (Chondrus crispus): Red seaweed species scanned by Josie Iselin, author of An Ocean Garden: The Secret Life of Seaweed.
This red Atlantic seaweed resembles curly lettuce and adds colour and flavour to salads. A staple during the Irish famine of 1845 to 1852, it was traditionally used as a thickener for soups and puddings. Irish moss is the source for carrageenan gum, a food additive associated with digestive problems, but the unprocessed seaweed is considered nutritious and not known to cause gut issues.
Is Seaweed Salad Good For You?
Seaweed offers some great health benefits because it is loaded with vitamins and nutrients, and has more calcium in it than broccoli. So if you don’t like broccoli, this might be the vegetable for you. Seaweed also offers a good amount of vitamins B-12 and A, and don’t forget that it is a wonderful source of soluble fiber. It turns into a gel, which slows down the digestive process. When this happens, sugars and cholesterol are less likely to be absorbed by the body, meaning weight gain is less likely to occur.
Seaweed tends to be high in sodium, sitting at about 690 mg per serving. Tack on the sodium found in soy sauce, a common ingredient in seaweed salad, and sodium levels in one salad approach the daily maximum of about 2300 mg a day. If you already have high blood pressure, this amount drops to 1800 mg or less. To reduce the sodium level, cut back on the soy sauce if making it at home, or ask if the dressing can be on the side when eating seaweed salad at a restaurant.
The minerals in seaweed salad are worth trying to eat at least once a week. Seaweed salad typically has wakame in it, a type of seaweed different than nori seaweed that is used to make sushi rolls. The essential minerals found in wakame include calcium, iron, and magnesium, an important mineral in regulating blood pressure.
Folate is also found in seaweed salad, which can help prevent birth defects, so pregnant women can benefit from this salad. Vitamin A is also found in seaweed salad, which is important for healthy eyes and vision.
Seaweed itself is low in fat and has no cholesterol. Good fats such as olive and sesame oil are used in seaweed salad, adding heart health benefits to the nutritional profile.
Simple Seaweed Salad Recipe
Short on time but want to take advantage of eating this powerhouse salad? Here is a simple recipe: a popular Japanese dish that will take less than 10 minutes to prep. Seaweed salad nutrition facts include fiber, vitamins, minerals such as iron, and iodine (a micronutrient), which is needed for thyroid and brain health. Iodine is hard to get from food alone; that is why it is added to table salt to ensure most people get some in their diet. Eat this salad to get the health benefits of seaweed salad.
For the salad, you will need:
- 1-ounce dry mixed seaweed
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
- *1/2 teaspoon ginger juice
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
- 1 scallion, finely chopped
Put the seaweed in a bowl and fill with water. Soak for 5 minutes if you like your seaweed more tender and soak for 10 minutes if you like it softer. The dressing is simple to make. Combine the rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, salt, and ginger in a bowl and mix it up. Drain the seaweed. You will need to use your hands to squeeze out any excess water. Toss everything together and then plate.
* If you can’t find ginger juice in your local grocery stores, shredded ginger will work just fine. It just won’t be as pungent, which may be a preferred flavor for you.
Other cultures have been eating seaweed for centuries and it is no wonder why. This is an easy to use food that has a strong nutritional profile, even though it is low on protein. Add it to soups, smoothies, or even when baking; or just make a seaweed salad a few times a week to get the benefits of this food.
“Seaweed Salad,” PBS web site; http://www.pbs.org/food/recipes/seaweed-salad/, last accessed January 13, 2017.
This low-carb seaweed salad recipe is the perfect tangy side-dish to accompany any meal. This simple and flavorful recipe is suitable for those following a low-carb, keto, Banting, or Atkins diet.
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This low-carb seaweed salad is the ideal way to upgrade your salad-game. This tangy salad is exploding with flavors of soy sauce and ginger and complimented with hints of wasabi. This dish is packed with fiber to help keep you feeling full for longer. While the perfect accompaniment to any dinner, this salad can also shine alone as a flavorful salad for lunch.
As a traditional staple in Japanese cuisine, seaweed salad is made with countless varieties of seaweed. This recipe highlights Wakame seaweed—a green and just slightly sweet variety of seaweed.
Growing up, seaweed salad was my go-to dish at any Asian restaurant that offered it. It was unlike any other salad I had had. I loved its distinct tangy flavor and refreshing quality.
While I’ve always wanted to try making my own seaweed salad, seaweed was an unfamiliar ingredient for me to work with and was a little intimidating at first. As it turns out, seaweed is actually super easy to prepare and I’m so glad that I gave it a shot! I hope you will too!
This recipe is based off of this incredible recipe by Genius Kitchen. I modified this recipe to make it more keto-friendly by using granulated stevia erythritol sweetener and reducing the amount of carrot. I also increased the amount of seaweed and added wasabi powder to add that extra punch of flavor.
Is seaweed salad healthy?
Absolutely! While some seaweed salads may use a little bit of sugar to balance the tartness of the vinegar and soy sauce, this recipe substitutes sugar with a stevia erythritol blend which contains no sugar.
In addition, seaweed on its own boasts many health benefits. Seaweed is a rich source of a variety of vitamins such as vitamin C, A, E, and B12 and also offers powerful antioxidant properties. Because of its low carb levels, it can be part of a keto diet. In fact, there have also been many studies that suggest that seaweed can be used to help control blood sugar levels.
Where to buy Wakame seaweed
When I was first planning this recipe, I wasn’t sure where I could find wakame seaweed. Fortunately, chances are, you’ll be able to find Wakame seaweed somewhere locally. Wakame seaweed is available in most Asian grocery stores as well as specialty or health food stores like Whole Foods.
A lot of stores will offer seaweed snacks that come in sheets of dried and sometimes flavored seaweed. For this recipe, this kind of seaweed won’t work well. If you aren’t able to find wakame locally, it can easily be purchased online through Amazon.
If you can’t find precut seaweed, you can easily cut the seaweed into strips yourself after rehydrating it. Don’t try to cut the seaweed while it is dry because it will be a lot more brittle. While wakame may be a little harder to find than some ingredients, I promise it’ll be worth the search!
How to use Wakame seaweed
When you purchase wakame seaweed, it might not look very edible or salad-ready out of the bag— it’s normally dehydrated and in tiny, brittle strips. Fortunately, it doesn’t take long to rehydrate seaweed and you’ll be surprised at how much AND how quickly it expands!
Even though this recipe only uses one ounce of seaweed, I recommend rehydrating seaweed in at least a medium-sized bowl to allow enough room for the seaweed to expand. Once the dried seaweed is in a bowl, pour water (preferably warm) over the seaweed, covering it in at least two or three inches of water. You may have to add more as it expands.
After adding the water, let the seaweed rest for about five minutes and watch the magic happen! When fully rehydrated, the seaweed should be soft, delicate, and slightly lighter in color.
This low-carb seaweed salad recipe is the perfect tangy side-dish to accompany any meal. This simple and flavorful recipe is suitable for those following a low-carb, keto, Banting, or Atkins diet.
5 from 5 votes
Low-Carb Seaweed Salad Recipe
This low-carb seaweed salad recipe is the perfect tangy side-dish to accompany any meal. This simple and flavorful recipe is suitable for those following a low-carb, keto, Banting, or Atkins diet. This salad can be made ahead and is even more delicious after the flavors have time to mingle.
Course Salad, Side Dish Cuisine Asian Keyword low carb side dish, seaweed salad, wakame seaweed recipe, wakame seaweed salad recipe Total Time 10 minutes Calories 74 kcal Author Harper Slusher
- 1 ounce dried wakame seaweed precut
- 3 tbsp rice vinegar
- 4 tbsp soy sauce (may substitute coconut aminos, if desired)
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tsp granulated stevia erythritol blend (Pyure)
- 1 tsp ginger finely grated
- 1/2 tsp garlic minced
- 1/8 tsp wasabi powder (can be substituted with red pepper flakes)
- 2 tbsp scallions finely sliced
- 1 tbsp carrot shredded
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
In a medium bowl, soak dehydrated seaweed in warm water for about 5 minutes or until it expands significantly and softens. Next, transfer seaweed to a colander and rinse with cold water. Let seaweed rest in the colander while preparing the salad dressing so that the residual water can drain out.
- Next, combine the rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, sweetener, ginger, garlic, and wasabi powder in a small bowl, stirring until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated and the sweetener is dissolved.
Transfer rehydrated seaweed to a large bowl and then add the dressing from the previous step.
- Finally, add scallions, shredded carrot, and sesame seeds and stir until evenly incorporated. Add salt if desired and serve. Enjoy!
Nutrition Facts Low-Carb Seaweed Salad Recipe Amount Per Serving Calories 74 Calories from Fat 45 % Daily Value* Fat 5g8% Saturated Fat 1g6% Polyunsaturated Fat 2g Monounsaturated Fat 2g Sodium 1590mg69% Potassium 57mg2% Carbohydrates 5g2% Fiber 3g13% Protein 4g8% Vitamin A 300%6% Vitamin C 0.8%1% Calcium 90%9% Iron 0.9%5% * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
6 Things to Know About Seaweed
Seaweed may not be your first (or even second) choice as an appetizer, entrée, or snack, but in some parts of the world, seaweed is a regular part of the diet. In Scandinavia, seaweed is added to soups and salads. It’s part of the traditional cuisine in Wales and other parts of Britain, as well as in the Caribbean. China, Japan, South Korea, and other Asian countries have long consumed seaweed, whether wrapped around sushi, used to make a soup stock, or eaten with vinegar as a starter.
There are thousands of types of seaweed (also referred to by scientists as macroalgae, and commonly called sea vegetables), but only a few dozen are typically consumed. And though seaweed is not yet a staple of the American diet, it is being called the “new kale”—used as a topping on sandwiches, as a condiment, fashioned into noodles, toasted as chips, added to smoothies and baked goods, and even as a new commercially available salad dressing and marinade. Many top-rated restaurants around the world now include seaweed as an ingredient in their dishes.
The most commonly consumed seaweed types include wakame and kombu, two types of brown seaweed; and nori and dulse, both red seaweed. The Q & A below offers insights into seaweed’s nutritional pluses and minuses.
1. Does seaweed have health benefits?
It may—and it’s long been used as a remedy for a variety of ailments. Seaweed’s potential role in health dates as far back as the Ebers Papyrus in 1500 bce, which cited it as a remedy for tumors. Traditional Chinese medicine relied on seaweed as a treatment for everything from goiter to urinary tract infections. In the present day, many animal and lab studies point to seaweed’s promising potential health benefits. For example, lab studies have found that fucoidans, a polysaccharide in seaweed, have antiviral activity and can induce cell death in human colon cancer cells; human studies have suggested that they decrease the rate of sugar absorption after eating.
In addition, a small study of postmenopausal womenin the Journal of Applied Phycology found that consuming seaweed in capsule form was linked with reduced levels of a molecule involved in cancer cell signaling. The authors postulated that this might help explain the lower rates of breast cancer among Japanese women who consume lots of seaweed. And a case-control studyin 2010 in the British Journal of Nutrition linked a high seaweed intake with a reduced risk of breast cancer among women in South Korea.
Seaweed may also contain chemicals that benefit cholesterol levels, and it may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Given the many nutrients and phytochemicals found in seaweed, a review paperin 2015 in Phycologia concluded that manufacturers should make more use of seaweed in food products as a way to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
2. What nutrients are in seaweed?
Is Seaweed Salad Japanese?
If you’ve ever gone to Japan and asked for a seaweed salad only to get a strange look, followed by a dish that’s not quite what you expected, you might have questioned whether seaweed salad is even Japanese. When translated literally, seaweed salad is Kaisou Sarada (海藻サラダ) in Japanese; however, this refers to any salad with seaweed on top, not the bright green sesame oil seasoned salad we’re used to getting in the States.
While there is a similar salad in Japan with a variety of seaweed on top, it’s part of the home cooking repertoire and not something most restaurants would serve (especially a proper sushi restaurant). The home-style seaweed salad of Japan usually involves a mix of seaweed on a bed of vegetables such as lettuce, corn, cucumbers, and tomatoes. This is then dressed with whatever dressing you have on hand.
So how did the Japanese-American seaweed salad come to be? My hunch is that it’s based off Chinese jellyfish salad (涼拌海蜇), which is marinated in a similar dressing and has a similar texture. How this ended up as a staple in sushi restaurants across the US is anyone’s guess…
Why Isn’t it Green?
Sorry to break it to you guys, but if you’ve been eating seaweed salad because you thought it was healthy, I have news for you. That neon green color that many seaweed salads have is not the natural color of seaweed; it’s food coloring. Places that serve this kind of salad also usually buy it in tubs pre-seasoned, which also means it’s probably loaded with corn syrup and MSG.
The thing is, seaweed is full of minerals and vitamins, which is why I want to show you guys how to make it at home. It won’t have quite the same color, but I guarantee it will taste just as good, if not better!
Types of Edible Seaweed
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different seaweed in the oceans of the world. They’re not all edible, but many of them are, and they each have a unique color and texture. That’s why I usually prefer calling these sea veggies rather than seaweed.
Most seaweed salads include more than one kind of seaweed and here’s the mix I used. Don’t feel like you need to find one with all of these, but the more variety your mix has, the more colors and textures your salad will have.
Where do I get Seaweed?
Japanese grocery stores should carry bags of assorted dried seaweed, specifically for making a salad. If you don’t have a Japanese grocery store nearby, try searching the web or online retailers such as Amazon.
Although most seaweed will rehydrate in about 6-7 minutes, it takes much longer than that for the moisture content to reach equilibrium. The problem is, if you soak the seaweed for too long, it will get soggy and water down the dressing. That’s why I like draining it at around the 6-7 minute mark and then let it rehydrate the rest of the way in the dressing. Once you’ve tossed the seaweed salad with the dressing, I’d recommend letting it sit for at least an hour before eating, but it tastes best when left in the fridge overnight.
Seaweed Salad Dressing
Japanese-American style seaweed salad gets its trademark flavor from toasted sesame oil, which is combined with soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, and salt. This creates a sweet, savory and tangy dressing brimming with the nutty flavor of toasted sesame.
I like the warm spicy kick that ginger adds, so I’ve also added some ginger juice to the sauce; this imparts a ginger flavor without the tough fibrous bits of ginger getting in the way. To make ginger juice, grate some ginger and then pass it through a strainer, pressing on the solids to get all the juice out.
I also wanted my salad to have a milder flavor that won’t have you reaching for a glass of water after every bite, so I haven’t used a ton of salt or sugar in the dressing. If you want to make it more like the store bought kind, increase the amount of sugar and salt.
Variations of Seaweed Salad
I know some seaweed salads are a bit spicy, so you want more heat, try adding some chili flakes, or a chili paste like sambal oelek to the dressing.
In Japan, seaweed salad is often dressed with Ponzu, which is a citrus sauce made with yuzu juice, soy sauce, and a bit of sugar. It’s light, refreshing, and perhaps my favorite way of dressing this nutrient-dense salad.
5 from 3 votes Yield: 6 servings Prep Time: 10 minutes Total Time: 10 minutes
- 20 grams dry mixed seaweed
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
- 1 scallion (finely chopped)
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger juice
- Put the seaweed in a bowl and cover with cold water. Let this rehydrate for 7 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients together until the sugar and salt are completely dissolved.
- When the seaweed has rehydrated, pour the seaweed into a colander and then rinse it thoroughly.
- Use your hands to gather up the seaweed and then squeeze as much water out of it as you can.
- Add the rehydrated seaweed to the bowl with the dressing and then add the sesame seeds and scallions. Toss to coat evenly and adjust the seasonings to taste.
Nutrition Facts Seaweed Salad Amount Per Serving Calories 40 Calories from Fat 27 % Daily Value* Fat 3g5% Sodium 272mg11% Potassium 12mg0% Carbohydrates 2g1% Sugar 2g2% Vitamin A 20IU0% Vitamin C 0.4mg0% Calcium 19mg2% Iron 0.4mg2% * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Every time I go to a sushi restaurant I order the seaweed salad, which is the perfect example of “clean eating” food! The seaweed salad is always very pricey though and then they give me these teeny tiny portions, so I never have enough to eat, which I find very frustrating. However, I went to my mom’s house for dinner the other night and much to my delight was a GINORMOUS bowl of seaweed salad. I greedily spooned out much more than my fair share and happily gobbled it up. It wasn’t exactly the same seaweed you get in the Japanese restaurants, but I actually liked it even better.
Where Can You Buy Seaweed?
As far as I know, you can’t easily buy fresh seaweed, but dried seaweed is rather easy to find (you soak the dried seaweed in water and in 5 minutes it puffs up and is ready to eat). Mom bought dried seaweed from our local Asian market but they also sell it in natural foods stores and Whole Foods Market. If you don’t have an Asian market in your hometown you can buy it (along with just about anything else!) online at Amazon.com.
Just like there are different varieties of salad (romaine, arugula, etc.) there are also different varieties of seaweed. Like me, my mom didn’t really know one seaweed from the other, but she chose wakame because she said it “looked like it was the easiest to work with.”
Wakame is pleasantly tasty with a subtly sweet flavor. And yes, mom was right, it’s also easy to work with! It can be used for salad or in soup (I’m pretty sure this is the seaweed they use in miso soup). Wakame, classified as a “brown algae”, is also incredibly nutritious. Did you know wakame has 4 x’s the iron in beef?!?! And, after hijiki, wakame is the seaweed highest in calcium. Wakame has 10 x’s the calcium in milk!
Sea Vegetables (Seaweed) are SUPER Foods & Perfect if You are Trying to “Eat Clean”!!
Actually all sea vegetables (seaweed) are extremely nutrient rich, especially in minerals. Asian cultures prize seaweed for its ability to promote good health, beauty and a long life. As a group, seaweed is known to have detoxifying benefits. Eating seaweed has also been studied for possible anti-cancer effects. And, it must be a potent anti-inflammatory too as ancient Chinese texts report, “there is no swelling that is not relieved by seaweed.” (Now that I think about it, maybe that’s why so many spas offer seaweed wraps? I’m claustrophobic so the last thing I’m gonna do is let someone bind me up in seaweed in the hopes of shrinking the size of my butt. However, I’ll certainly have a big bowlful for lunch if that helps matters!)
How Do You Make Asian Seaweed Salad?
Seaweed salad is beyond easy to make. All you need to do is soak the seaweed in warm water for about 5 minutes. Drain the water and rinse briefly (if you don’t rinse the seaweed it can be a bit too salty, but if you rinse it too long it can be a little slimy.) Then you dress your salad with a light Asian-inspired vinaigrette such as the one in the recipe below.
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- 1 bag (2 ounces) Wakame dried and cut seaweed
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger
- 1 teaspoon rice wine or white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 1/4 teaspoon raw honey (swap for maple if vegan)
Optional for Garnish
- Pickled ginger (available in supermarkets near the sushi section)
- Sesame seeds (black or white)
- Soak seaweed in warm water to cover, 5 minutes. Drain, rinse briefly with cool water and drain again. Use a paper towel to blot excess water. Set seaweed aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, ginger, vinegar, sesame oil and honey. Drizzle vinaigrette on top of seaweed and toss to coat. Optional: Garnish with fresh pickled ginger and sesame seeds.
Note: Asian Seaweed Salad will last for 2 days in a covered container in your fridge.
Is Seaweed Salad Healthy?
Learn the ingredients of seaweed salad and it’s nutritional breakdown
Seaweed salad, also known as hiyashi wakame and goma wakame, is a very popular salad served in sushi bars and Japanese restaurants. It can be found as an appetizer as well as a garnish and has enjoyed success as a cross over ingredient in many types of restaurants serving seafood. The salad’s growing popularity in Manhattan in the nineties coined it the
“coleslaw of the nineties.”
Diners often turn to this delicious green salad as a healthy appetizer. Though wakame seaweed has a host of health benefits, the product served in restaurants is almost always a pre-packaged, seasoned product. As a pre-packaged and often frozen product, people often wonder what’s in seaweed salad and is it really good for you?
Ingredients in Seaweed Salad
Seaweed salad is most commonly sesame flavored and the wakame seaweed is not surprisingly seasoned with sesame oil as well as sesame seeds. Other seasoning components are red pepper flakes, vinegar, salt and cloud ear (kikurage) mushrooms. Agar agar, a type of seaweed-based gelatin, is also added for texture. But what may surprise you is that some manufacturers add artificial dye to the salad. Sugar is also added, but depending on manufacturer, may be present in the form of corn syrup.
Nutritional Data on Pre-Packaged Seaweed Salad
A typical serving size, 2 ounces, of seaweed salad has approximately 70 calories, 4 grams of fat, 10 grams of carbohydrates, 50 milligrams of calcium, and 1 gram of protein. Eaten in moderation, seaweed salad can be enjoyed without breaking the calorie bank.
Seaweed has amazing properties! Sea vegetables are virtually fat-free, low calorie and are one of the richest sources of minerals in the vegetable kingdom. According to Seibin and Teruko Arasaki, authors of Vegetables from the Sea, “All of the minerals required by human beings, including calcium, sodium, magnesium, potassium, iodine, iron, and zinc are present in sufficient amounts. In addition, there are many trace elements in seaweeds.” They also contain vitamins as vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), B1, B2, B6, niacin, vitamin C, pantothenic acid, and folic acid. Analysis has shown trace amounts of vitamin B12, which rarely occurs in land vegetables. Sea vegetables have been shown to cleanse the body of toxic pollutants. Seaweed feeds the shafts and the ducts of the scalp to help improve the health of the hair. It has been said that the thick, black, lustrous hair of the Japanese is partly due to their regular diet of brown sea vegetables such as arame. Research has shown that minerals are important to healthy hair growth, and arame has a high mineral content. Other health benefits, according to Carlson Wade’s book Health Secrets from the Orient, include regulating the hormones, enriching the bloodstream, assisting in metabolism, promoting a youthful skin color, and helping to warm the body to promote mental youthfulness. So enjoy this nutritionally-packed food on the planet.