Nori are thin, dried seaweed sheets which are used in many sushi dishes, and as a topping or condiment for various noodle dishes and other dishes.
Nori is the Japanese name for the edible seaweed species of the red algae genus Porphyra, including especially P.yezoensis and P.tenera. Although it is classified as red seaweed, it is a bright lavender colour in water. When dried, it becomes deep purple to black, but turns green when cooked or toasted. The best quality nori has a deep colour and a brilliant lustre. Finished products are made by a shredding and rack-drying process that resembles paper-making.
The word nori first appeared in an English-language publication ("A Japanese and English Dictionary") in 1867. The word nori started to be widely used in the 1960s, due to the influence of the macrobiotic movement, and in the 1970s, with the growing number of sushi bars and Japanese restaurants.
Sushi is a Japanese food consisting of cooked vinegared rice (called sushi-meshi or shari) combined with other ingredients (neta), usually raw fish or other sea food. The processed seaweed paper used to hold the sushi together is nori.
Most nori is actually farmed in the waters around China and Japan. It is also sourced from Canada, from the clear unpolluted Atlantic Ocean.
Nori is best known in its common usage, as a wrap for sushi. It is also a garnish or flavouring in noodle preparations and soups. It is most typically toasted prior to consumption. It is also eaten by making it into a soy sauce-flavoured paste. It is sometimes used as a form of food decoration, generally as strips. It can also be chopped and added to salads.
Dried nori has a protein content of between 30% and 50%. This is higher than fish, poultry, milk, and beans such as soy.
About a third of nori is dietary fibre.
Nori contains high proportions of iodine, vitamin A (more than in carrots), B vitamins and vitamin C. It is a good source of calcium, iron and potassium. There are minimal amounts of fat (less than 4%).
Iodine is an important mineral (see my July 2012 newsletter Iodine and Health). According to the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand, one sushi roll contains 92 micrograms of iodine: the recommended daily intake of iodine for adults is 150 micrograms.
By weight, nori it is said to have 10 times more calcium and iron than dairy
In summary, nori has near zero fat content, 30% or so dietary fibre, a protein content better than legumes, as well as vitamins, significant amounts of minerals, especially calcium and iron, and other trace elements.
Nori would seem to be a perfect food.
*Copyright 2013: The Huntly Centre.
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