Nori Snack

13 Interesting Facts About Nori

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Nori is a type of edible red seaweed that is widely used in Japanese cuisine. Its paper-thin sheets have a delicate, salty, umami flavor that perfectly complements sushi, rice balls, and ramen dishes.

While nori is best known globally as the wrap that holds sushi rolls together, it has a rich history and nutrition profile that makes it so much more than a simple holder.

Here are 13 fascinating facts about nori that highlight everything from its origins to its health benefits:

Facts About Nori

  1. Nori has been eaten in Japan for over 1,300 years.
    Nori was first documented as a food source in Japan as early as 721 AD. Back then, it was dried into a paste and considered a delicacy reserved only for aristocrats. It wasn’t until the 18th century that regular citizens began enjoying it too.
  2. It played a role in Japanese politics in the 17th century.
    In the 1600s, a shogun named Tokugawa Ieyasu ordered that fish be delivered to him every day. This put pressure on fishermen to have a steady supply on hand. To meet the demand, they started purposefully growing seaweed around their fish pens which led to the first efforts at actively cultivating nori.
  3. Nori gets its signature dark green color from processing.
    Nori seaweed starts out red when it’s growing in the ocean. Once harvested, it gets shredded and then goes through a drying and roasting process which turns it into the dark green/black color we know. The longer it ages, the darker it becomes.
  4. Over 90 billion sheets are produced globally each year.
    The majority comes from Japan which dedicates over 230 square miles of its coastal waters solely for nori production. China and South Korea also cultivate and export substantial amounts around the world.
  5. It played a pivotal role in the Japanese post-war recovery.
    In 1948, nori experienced a die-off that threatened an industry that was helping Japan rebuild after WWII. British scientist Kathleen Drew-Baker discovered why and helped re-establish nori growth, saving an industry that now generates over $2 billion per year.
  6. Nori is grown on nets in the ocean.
    The small seedlings attach to nets suspended below the water’s surface. This allows them to grow strong while exposed to natural sunlight and ocean nutrients. Farmers harvest several batches during the peak winter season.
  7. It’s more nutritious than many land vegetables.
    Nori boasts an impressive nutrition profile. Just one sheet holds as much vitamin C as two oranges, more fiber than a bowl of oatmeal, and substantial amounts of vitamin A, vitamin B12, iodine, and omega-3s.
  8. Its health benefits are numerous.
    Studies show nori can help lower cholesterol, remove heavy metals from the body, fight viruses and bacteria, and keep skin looking youthful. The iodine it contains also helps support thyroid health.
  9. Nori sheets easily degrade.
    Once harvested, nori sheets quickly absorb moisture. Care must be taken to prevent mold growth during processing and storage. Most packages contain desiccant packets to preserve freshness.
  10. It has a delicious umami flavor.
    When roasted, nori develops a rich, savory, and slightly sweet umami taste that comes from the natural glutamates in seaweed. These compounds interact with taste receptors to produce a delicious flavor.
  11. Nori makes soup broths taste better.
    Kombu and nori are both used as soup stocks in Asian cooking to provide a rich, umami depth of flavor. Their natural compounds bring out the taste of other ingredients.
  12. It’s the secret ingredient in furikake seasoning.
    This popular Japanese rice topping gets its trademark flavor from toasted nori. Mixed with sesame seeds and salt, it adds a subtle ocean-like taste.
  13. Nori snacks are now popular worldwide.
    Crispy nori sheets lightly brushed with oil or soy sauce make for a delicious snack. Nori’s growing global appeal has turned it into a coveted item for health-conscious snackers.

As you can see, humble nori punching far above its weight class in terms of nutrition, versatility, and rich history. This sea vegetable plays an integral role not just in sushi rolls but in Japanese culture and health.

Now that you know more about nori seaweed, consider exploring its uses beyond sushi. Add strips to salads, soups, and rice bowls, or enjoy lightly toasted sheets as a snack. Your body and tastebuds will thank you!

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