Why eat seaweeds? I’ve tried different varieties just out of curiosity, but if you’re looking for “nutritional reasons”, you’ll definitely find enough arguments to start eating seaweed. (Check out “A Visual Guide to Sea Vegetables” )
In addition, fresh seaweeds can be easily found in organic food supermarkets here in the Netherlands. In Europe, most of the fresh edible seaweeds come from the French region Brittany (North-West France, just under Normandy).
■ Large dark green strips, preserved in salt. This is the kind of seaweed you often find floating in soups served in Japanese restaurants.
■ Pros: Very nice to give flavor to a broth. Fresh product can be kept in the fridge for several days due to the salt preserving it. (You do have to rinse the kombu very well before consumption.)
■ Cons: It’s sill quite expensive (5 euro for a small box).
■ A red algae, thinner than kombu. Can be eaten raw or cooked. The flavor is somewhat similar to red cabbage, but in a seaweed kind of way.
■ Pros: Easy to eat raw. Very convenient to add in salads.
■ Cons: Expensive (5 euro for a small box). When it comes to flavor, dulse can be difficult to ‘combine gracefully’ with other ingredients.
■ The most famous dry seaweed, commonly used as a wrap for sushi.
■ Pros: you can make low-carbs “wraps” or “rolls” with it, instead of using tortillas and flatbreads. That said, the filling often end up overflowing on both sides!
■ Cons: the price, still expensive for a dry product that often consists in a pack of only 5 sheets.
■ A dark green algae, mostly available in a dried version. Once rehydrated, it triples volume.
■ Pros: A small amount of dried wakame produces a big amount of rehydrated wakame.
■ Cons: The taste and texture are much less pleasant than fresh seaweed.
■ A brown seaweed called Himanthalia elongata. Dehydrated, must be rehydrated before cooking.
■ Pros: spaghetti aspect: once cooked, this kind of seaweed look just like dark spaghettis.
■ Cons: The taste, too strong, and the texture, too rubbery.
■ Salicornia is not a seaweed (a little intruder in that review!), but a plant that grows on soils that are rich in sea salt.
■ Pros: can be prepared like green beans, but much convenient and fast to cook.
■ Cons: very salty, even when the plant is thoroughly rinsed. I recommend adding it to dishes containing with other vegetables, but without adding any extra salt.
Seaweeds are very primitive vegetables, and that’s definitely a big advantage: when preparing them, there are no rods or fibers to take off. You can just cut them into pieces and that’s all. They’re actually very convenient to prepare compared to other vegetables that you have to peel or sort.
I’ve really enjoyed fresh seaweeds from Brittany like kombu, as well as fresh salicornia which is produced in the Netherlands. These kinds of products are a bit overpriced, but they have a long shelf life for fresh products. They can give a nice Japanese or Scandinavian touch to any dish.
I’m not a fan of dried seaweeds like wakame or seaweed spaghettis. Even if they are cheaper than fresh seaweeds, their texture is too rubbery and often a bit gross.