Seaweed as Seasoning
Before we can talk of using seaweed as seasoning, we must talk about the taste of umami.
It is common knowledge that humans can taste four basic flavors: sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. Actually, humans can also recognize the fifth taste – savory or rich – Umami. This word comes from Japanese culture and means the fifth taste.
Umami does not mean fish flavor, as many wrongly believe. Instead, Umami is a perfect combination of flavors which is best described as savory.
International scientific community has only discovered umami receptors in the human mouth some decades ago. By that time, the word umami had been in use in its original meaning for more than a hundred years. A Japanese scientist, professor Kikunae Ikeda, began studying the famous Japanese dashi broth. This is one of the most basic elements of the Japanese cuisine: dashi broth is part of a lot of dishes.
What is it that makes the flavor of dashi so special, tasty, savory, and umami? In 1908, Ikeda found out that one of the dashi ingredients is kombu, a type of brown kelp. This was the magical component that gave the savory and rich flavor. Since then, seaweed has been used in a huge variety of Japanese dishes, making them delicious.
Be adventurous and try seaweed with different foods!
Umami seaweed flavor works a little differently in every dish. It is not like regular pepper or salt that produce the same result in every dish. Umami taste in seaweed enhances other flavors and blends them all into savory culinary experience. When preparing food, use seaweed just like any other seasoning, adding up to one teaspoon per portion. Start with a smaller amount to see how umami flavor works with different foods and what combination you like the best. Since seaweed also contains natural sea salt, use less salt with seaweed than you normally do.
Seaweeds are perfectly suited for making sauces since they contain a natural thickening agent which helps make the sauce pleasantly creamy.
Seaweed as Bouillon Cubes
The history bouillon cubes begins with none other than seaweed. During the time period when food was only prepared using those products that could be obtained from the home vegetable garden, seaweed that came from the seaside was added to it.
Now we have this opportunity again, with the seaweed that has especially been grown for eating. You don’t need to add bouillon cubes that are full of chemicals, you only need a couple of teaspoons of freeze-dried seaweed. Umami flavor works miracles in any soup and stew by enhancing all other flavors and creating new sensations.
Instead of bouillon cubes, use a mix of various seaweeds, for example, Dulse and Wakame. Add the seaweed at the beginning, so that all the flavors can blend while cooking. When you have more experience, add a little bit of Kombu as well. This way, you will achieve very different results while using only natural ingredients.
Seaweed as Salt Substitute
Kombu and Wakame seaweed contain 7,5 times less sodium than table salt.
If you replace half the salt you put into your food with seaweed, you will lower your salt consumption 3 times.
Excess sodium raises blood pressure, and with it increases the risk of heart disease. Maximum recommended daily intake of salt is 1 teaspoon (6g) which contains 2,4g of sodium. In one teaspoon of Kombu seaweed (0.3g), there is only 0.016g of sodium.
Seaweed is rich in various healthy minerals, such as potassium and magnesium which have salty flavor without containing too much sodium. Umami that is contained in seaweed helps lower the consumption of salt and enhances the flavor of food without salt.
Decreasing the consumption of sodium is not the only advantage of seaweed compared to table salt. In addition to many vitamins and minerals, seaweed contains a large amount of iodine. Iodine deficiency can cause various illnesses that can be easily avoided by eating a little bit of seaweed every day!
Start by replacing half of the salt in your food with Kombu seaweed. Once you have gotten used to consuming less salt, you can completely replace salt with seaweed.
Where does the salt in seaweed come from?
Our seaweed comes from the Atlantic Ocean which has the salinity of 34 per mille. This is 10 times saltier than the Baltic Sea. During freeze drying, the water that is contained in the seaweed evaporates, and all the minerals stay to give the seaweed its distinct salty flavor.
Seaweed as Superfood for Smoothies
Seaweed contains a combination of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants which help each other to be absorbed effectively while having few calories.
Since all these elements are dissolved in the ocean water, they are also easily absorbed by our organism. Consuming even a small amount of seaweed every day is enough to support your body with necessary nutrients.
This is exactly why seaweed is a perfect superfood for the morning smoothie. Add one tablespoon of Wakame or Dulse into the smoothie and blend thoroughly. The salty flavor of seaweed will not be separately felt in the smoothie but instead will make the whole thing tastier. A bit of umami makes the smoothie fresh and simply delicious.
Not a fan of smoothies?
Wakame also goes well with morning porridge and omelet; or you can simply sprinkle it on top of your sandwich instead of salt!