Since ancient times, Asian cultures, particularly the Japanese, have enjoyed the bounty of their surrounding seas, including shellfish, fish and seaweed in their cuisine. More than 30 varieties of seaweed are used in Japanese cooking. Seaweed contains important vitamins including vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), B1, B2, B6, niacin, vitamin C, pantothenic acid, and folic acid. Popular seaweed varieties for cooking include nori and wakame.
Nori is typically available in dried sheets and used as a topping for rice or salad, or used to roll sushi. Rich in vegetable protein, nori sheets can be bought in mini versions for wrapping cooked rice as a meal supplement at a traditional Japanese breakfast.
Make a quick mochi wrap by using eight frozen premade mochi squares, 1/2 cup of soy sauce and a package of nori seaweed. First, thaw each mochi square on a baking sheet. Once mochi squares are thawed, dip them into soy sauce and place them on the toaster oven baking sheet and bake them at 450 degrees until heated through which should be about five to eight minutes.
Next, cut the dried seaweed into 8 strips. Place these strips in a large frying pan over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Wrap each mochi cake in seaweed and serve warm.
Wakame is commonly used in Japanese miso soup. This fat free seaweed softens almost instantly when cut, making it easy to handle when cooking.
For a quick pot of Mmiso soup, soak an 8-inch piece of wakame in water for 15 minutes. Rinse, drain and cut the seaweed into 1-inch pieces. Combine 4 cups of water and two fish bouillon cubes, or dashi, in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Note: Dashi is a popular Japanese cooking stock made from fish and kelp.
Next, fold in 3 tbsp. of miso paste, wakame and 8 oz. of firm, diced tofu. Slice a green onion into half pieces and stir into the soup or serve as garnish.