Seaweeds for Seafood Flavoring

Looking back, I have to chuckle at myself. There was a time I was reluctant to try unfamiliar foods and ingredients. Seaweeds were certainly in that category. I have since learned, seaweeds are actually a food but more importantly seaweeds can be used as an ingredient for a “fishy” flavor. Furthermore seaweeds are very rich in nutrients. They contain ten to twenty times the minerals of land plants and are also rich in vitamins.

Seaweeds can be purchased in health food type stores but Asian stores have the best prices however seaweeds in an Asian market are packaged with unfamiliar names. Kelp powder purchased as a powder. Kombu and wakame are dried in strips and sold in bags.

The sea food recipes I make usually use a combination of different seaweeds. I do this for blending flavors. But if you want to start with just one seaweed, I’d recommend nori. It’s the most versatile and the least expensive. When a recipe asks for both nori and kelp powder, just use replace the kelp with more nori. Listed is what I keep in my pantry and how I use it.

Nori is the sushi wrapper. Nori is easy to find and the least expensive of all seaweeds. It has a sweet and salty flavor with a distinctive ocean aroma. It can be eaten raw or lightly toasted. To use in recipes, I make it into a powder. This is simple as the sheets are easy to tear and add to a blender. Store in an airtight container. I use this in Caesar Salad, Chickpea Tuna Salad, Faux Salmon, and Seafood Chowder.

Kelp Powder, Kombu and Wakame When used as a seasoning, all three of these are interchangeable. Kelp powder is easy to find on line. Kombu and wakame are often found in health type food stores. They are packaged in hard dried strips so a blender is required to pulverize them into a granular type powder. These seaweeds can be used on a daily basis. I always add a pinch to the water when cooking whole grains, dried beans and lentils. Doing this increases the nutritional value of the food I’m cooking. Adding a pinch of these also aids in digestibility of whole grains and legumes. I use one of these seaweed powders in the Chickpea Tuna Salad, Faux Salmon, in the Seafood Chowder.

Dulse has a dark red-blue color and a flaky appearance. It’s great for sprinkling and has a salty flavor. I use dulse the least as I’m using it mostly for the pop of color flecks. When I sprinkle it in Caesar Salad, it can become reminiscent of anchovies. I also like it in Seafood Chowder and sometimes I add it to Chickpea Tuna Salad. Dulse is available in health food type stores.

Old Bay Seasoning is not a seaweed but I included it here because it’s a seasoning that can be used to flavor seafood. It’s often used in traditional seafood chowders and crab cakes. Old Bay Seasoning is available in the spice section of most grocery stores and goes well in Seafood Chowder.