best natural foods

Nori - not just the sushi seaweed

Nori is sometimes called the sushi seaweed. But you don't always have to make sushi with it.

In fact, there are many ways to use this sushi seaweed. And so it comes in many different forms:

Chinese nori seaweed

There is also nori seaweed from China, which costs much less than Japanese sushi seaweed. Chinese nori is sold as dried nori "leaves" pressed together into a round, flat "cake" the way some tea leaves, such as the highly-prized (and priced) pu'er tea, is packed.

Chinese nori is usually cut into small pieces and added to clear soups, such as fishball noodle soup and fish porridge, which is actually a rice soup with slices of fish. Both are dishes of the Teochew dialect group.

The Chinese dish of yong tao foo - tofu and vegetables with fish paste, served either in a clear soup or a gravy mixture of chilli and sweet sauce - may also include a piece of Chinese nori. This dish is of Hakka origin, but there are also Teochew and Hokkien versions and the nori was probably introduced by the Teochews.

Nori seaweed in Western cultures

Nori, the sushi seaweed, is also eaten in Western cultures where it is known as laver. It is common in North America and Canada, where the American Indians eat it with corn as well as in Britain, Ireland and Wales.

The Welsh eat nori as laverbread, made by boiling laver for several hours and then minced or pureed to form a gelatinous paste. Laverbread is eaten on its own or rolled in oatmeal. It is also traditionally fried with bacon and cockles for breakfast.

Another simple way to eat laver / nori is to heat it gently and serve with butter and lemon or orange juice.

OK now for some recipes...

Purple-green sushi seaweed rolls

This unusual sushi seaweed roll, made without sushi rice, comes from macrobiotic cook Aiko Tanaka. She had stood in for Aveline Kushi when Aveline could not make it for a macrobiotic seminar led by Michio Kushi in Singapore in 1993. Aiko's recipes are basically "no recipes", as you can see...



  1. Boil a pot of water and add a generous pinch of sea salt.
  2. Cut purple cabbage into fine strips and blanch for about 1 minute. Do not overcook, or it will lose its bright color. Drain and set aside to drip dry.
  3. Similarly cut the green vegetables finely, blanch, drain and set aside to drip dry.
  4. Place a sheet of nori sushi seaweed on a sushi mat, with the rough side facing up. Spread cabbage to cover half of the nori sheet. Place green vegetables across the middle of the cabbage.
  5. Pick up the nori and the sushi mat with your thumb and index fingers. Roll the ingredients tightly. Using a sharp knife, cut each roll into six bite-size pieces.

VARIATION: Similar, and even more colorful sushi seaweed rolls can be made with finely cut purple cabbage, carrot and various other vegetables. Many health food restaurants / cafes in Singapore, especially those run by raw food advocates, have this "sushi" on their menu.

Very simple nori soup

  1. Bring some water to the boil.
  2. Add a crushed umeboshi plum, or 1 tbsp umeboshi paste
  3. Add some nori - use the cheap Chinese type, no need for costly sushi seaweed

Gluckastan - Red Indian corn with nori

I cannot remember where I got this laver recipe from the Tsawatainak Indian tribe in the Pacific Northwest. This was one of the seaweed recipes published in The Good Life, a newsletter on natural health that I produced from 1989 to 1976.

The original recipe probably did not use milk, as American Indians are not known to use milk and other dairy products. But the milk, or soy milk does lend a richness to it.



  1. In a saucepan, cook corn kernels with the milk or soy milk over medium heat.
  2. Separately, roast nori in a dry pan, taking care not to burn. When the nori is dry and crumbly, crumble it over the corn. Alternatively, use two sheets sushi seaweed nori, which is dry and crumbles easily.
  3. Simmer for another 10 minutes. Add more milk or soy milk if the mixture dries up.

Nori condiment

This is a nice, salty condiment that goes well with rice or rice porridge. It can be bought ready-made, but it is somewhat costly and so easy to make your own version.


  • 100 grams nori seaweed - use the cheap, Chinese nori for this, no need for sushi seaweed nori
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup shoyu
  • wasabi powder (optional)


  • Add water to the nori and break up the pieces. Make sure the nori is well brokwn-up so that it does not clump together.
  • Add shoyu and cook over low heat for 30 minutes or longer, until it forms a thick paste.
  • If you wish, add generous dashes of wasabi powder. Note: Get the genuine powdered wasabi root if you can. This is more white, with just a hint of green color. The green powder that is widely sold in Japanese supermarkets as "wasabi" is actually a fake product with artificial coloring and flavoring. Genuine wasabi tastes better and is not as pungent, but is also more costly. If you don't mind the expense, use grated fresh wasabi root, which costs many dollars for just a short, few-inch section.

This nori condiment keeps well in the refrigerator for months.

For more recipes, substitute sushi seaweed nori for in recipes using dulse.

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