Seaweed; not just for sushi

In recent years the culinary world has undergone a true revolution, due to the worldwide trend in health. This trend affects not only consumers but also leading chefs and food manufacturers.

If, in the past, when people went out to eat, or consumed prepared foods, they were mainly interested in taste and price, today consumers are no longer willing to compromise on health or on nutritional ingredients.

The health trend takes us back to the sources, to the food our ancestors ate, and from which they received the nutritional content they required. It examines ways to make the food delicious and fashionable. Spices such as turmeric and folk remedies like fish oil have all made their way back into the kitchen. Now, it’s seaweed’s turn.

Seaweed had been used for nutrition for hundreds of years, particularly in East Asia. It is known for its Umami flavour- the fifth taste- which is suited for spicing and improving any soup of cooked dish. It is especially rich in a variety of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, amino acids and important fatty acids. In many areas seaweed was the main “vegetable” consumed by locals. In Asia, seaweed has been included for hundreds of years in a broad range of dishes, but the rest of the world, until recently, were familiar with it only in sushi.

There are those who say that the overwhelming seaweed trend was started by celebrity British chef Jamie Oliver. He began the process of change in nutrition a decade ago and while he implements it with his own family, Oliver has also led the charge to improve the way all children in the UK eat.

Suddenly, like mushrooms appearing after a rainstorm, seaweed began to appear on menus in all restaurants who respect themselves. “Seaweed is the biggest trend of the year, and we see them playing a starring role in London’s leading restaurants” explained the product manager from Waitrose, London’s leading food chain to the Daily Telegraph.

Seaweed had become the new superfood, not only in England. The Times reported that in Scotland, seaweed is being added to crusts in pizzas served in schools across the country. The seaweed adds vitamins and minerals, while reducing the need for salt which has high sodium content.

The seaweed trend is spreading world-wide and has reached the United States as well. American chefs too are using this wonderful ingredient, and not only in Japanese restaurants. A well-known restaurant in Nashville came up with an innovative recipe- seaweed butter- whose fame has reached dozens of critics. “Just mix softened butter with seaweed in a blender, and you’ll be hooked”, says the chef.

There are over 3,500 varieties of seaweed, an entire world of nutritious plants, full of vitamins and minerals, and equally full of flavour . It is simple to cook with seaweed and delicious to eat. Millions of people worldwide are already enjoying the addition of seaweed to their food. Here, in Israel, we benefit from something rare; organic, pool-grown seaweed from Seakura, located along the Sharon coastline. This allows the Israeli consumer to enjoy the global food trend through unique food products and nutritional supplements.