There is such a wide variety of sea vegetables, or seaweed, to use when cooking at home. Outside of the ubiquitous dried nori snacks, we can easily use hijiki, kombu, dulse, wakame and more. Pictured above is salmon + hijiki rice made together in one pot - a very simple way to cook a filling meal, just add some fresh vegetables on the side and you’ll have plenty of leftovers for lunch. I found this recipe over on Happy Donabe Life, a great resource for Japanese inspired cooking.
Seaweeds are some of the most nutritious, naturally salty foods on the planet, with many benefits:
They supply all the minerals that we need, most significant being iron, sodium, phosphorous, calcium and iodine.
They are rich in vitamins, including vitamin B12.
They can help with thyroid disorders, blood deficiency disorders like anemia, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and can even help stabilize blood sugar levels. They can also aid in fat digestion.
Each variety of seaweed is slightly different and here is a quick breakdown for your reference:
Nori - highest in protein of all seaweeds, coming it at around 45% of dry weight. Has more vitamin A than carrots, and is the most easily digested of all the seaweeds due to its delicate structure.
Dulse - a dark red color seaweed, best for building blood as it has the highest iron content of any known food and is medically used to strengthen the adrenals, kidneys, blood and muscle.
Hijiki - stronger taste and needs to be soaked prior to eating due to its tougher texture. Has an extremely high mineral content, especially of calcium. It contains more than 10x the calcium of milk. It is said to strengthen the hair and help lower blood sugar levels.
Kombu - kelp is super high in minerals, and kombu is one variety that can be easily found and used at home. Many people actually prefer using kelp powder in place of sea salt as it has such a substantial amount of macro and trace minerals, the most important being iodine which is required by the thyroid gland to produce thyroxin. You can use kombu to make dashi broth, while cooking beans to make them more digestible, or in soups and seaweed salads, but if not cooked properly it can be tough and slippery.
Seaweeds are naturally cooling and moistening to the body and enrich the yin. They can soften nodules and hard masses when used clinically, moisten dryness, improve water metabolism, act as lymphatic cleansers, and help in weight loss.