Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Gourmet seaweed

My mom, sister and niece recently went on a week visit to Japan, and returned with all sorts of gourmet foodstuffs as souvenirs. Among my favorite souvenirs is high-quality dried, seasoned seaweed, or nori.

This is the same type of seaweed used to wrap hand and cut rolls at sushi bars. It's dried and subtly seasoned with flavors like plum or fish, or simply salted, and can come in sheets of different sizes. The "gourmet" version I got as a souvenir gift from friends comes in convenient individual packets stored in lovely tin canisters like this.

In a typical Japanese home, you eat this individual-sized seaweed at all meals with rice, creating mini-rolls by using the nori to wrap rice and pieces of fish, pickled plum, vegetables or other types of seaweed, like salted kobu. Here's a photo 1-2-3:

You can also shred or cut the seasoned seaweed into confetti-like pieces that you can sprinkle over rice and other food, or to flavor soups like the ochazuke I blogged about earlier.
This type of premium seaweed is sold in little specialty shops in Japan, just as high-grade teas, pickled plums, pastries and other delicacies are sold.

My family has never had to buy Japanese tea, seaweed or other specialty food items here in California because our friends and family always send, or bring on visits, these beautifully packaged, premium-quality foodstuffs.

We've indeed been lucky and spoiled with the highest-grade green tea leaves from specialty tea boutiques, gourmet seaweed of all varieties and premium sake.


  1. FINALLY! Something that my Japanese-American Dads' families shared with me that's actually Japanese in origin.

    I love this, and fondly remember eating that fancy seaweed along with my rice, shrimp, fish, and the more Hawaiian slanted foods that we regularly ate, of course. ;)

    I'll be on the lookout for some decent local nori.

    Thanks, Iris!

  2. i wouldn't quite call this type of nori "fancy" seaweed - it's a basic no-frills staple, demonstrated by it being wrapped regularly around Spam musubi! :)
    i should clarify that the "gourmet" part of my post was referring specifically to the quality level of the stuff i got from Japan - sorta like how there's "gourmet" versions of mac n' cheese.
    i'm afraid any of the nori you buy here is gonna be like Kraft Mac N Cheese ;-)