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Nori is the traditional Japanese seaweed that is used for rolling the sushi rolls. It’s typically dark green and dry. Although it is the crucial ingredient in sushi, it’s often overlooked by the start of the sushi – it’s raw fish. As a result, many people don’t realize there are different types of nori.
And not every type of nori can be used for sushi. It is a delicate ingredient, and you need to be very careful when choosing your nori. The best kind of nori for sushi is very dark colored, dark green, and uniformly thick. Best nori has a natural sweetness and rich flavor.
The unique taste and quality of the nori depend upon location, water, and substances in the sea. Some experts say that the finest Nori is produced in the Ariake Bay, in the Kyushu island in Southern Japan. You realize now how little you know about this crucial sushi ingredient? Keep reading, and you will discover all there is about best nori for sushi making.
What is Nori?
Nori is the Japanese name for dry edible seaweed sheets that are used for making sushi, but also other delicacies. Its color is dark green or black, which is funny because they are made from red algae called Porphyria, including Porphyria yezoensis and Porphyria tenera.
However, because of the processing which includes shredding, drying, and roasting, the seaweed changes the color to the dark green that we know. What is more interesting, is that the process itself resembles papermaking.
Like rice, nori is a vital sushi ingredient. It is used to wrap sushi rolls, and it is the first ingredient to touch the tongue when eating sushi. Nori has a strong and distinctive salty flavor that perfectly rounds with rice and raw fish. It is essential to have the best one because it will set the tone for an extraordinary sushi experience.
While most Western people know nori as a sushi ingredient, Japanese cuisine is much creative with using nori. It is added to different soups and seafood dishes because of its salty flavor.
What is the best type of Nori for sushi?
When choosing your nori for sushi rolls, you need to use all of your senses. Don’t just buy the first seaweed you see, without considering our advice.
If you know what you are looking for it will be easy for you to find the perfect type of nori for sushi. Start with inspecting the color – the best kind of nori is black or darken green.
The low-quality nori often has some unusual brownish or light green color. They can even have rough areas with a thicker-thinner surface. This is the visible sign something isn’t right. You don’t want to wrap your sushi in this type of nori.
Moreover, the poor-quality ones might even have some holes and different flaws on a sheet that must be balanced in appearance and taste. These low-quality seaweeds are generally dry, tasteless and harder to handle because of their thickness.
These varieties of nori are cheap and used only because of that reason, and we don’t recommend them for making a great sushi roll. You might save some money, but you will not get the best sushi experience.
On the other hand, dark green nori, known in the West as the sushi nori, has a dark green color that is almost all black. This best type of nori has a perfect and consistent thickness without any holes. The dark green nori will not be opaque or transparent, and it will look very tight.
The best type of nori for sushi has a naturally sweet and subtle flavor that entirely complements with other sushi ingredients. High-quality nori is soft and melting in your mouth like you are eating earth and the ocean at the same time.
More about different types of nori: Good Nori, Bad Nori, & How to Tell the Difference
This dark, high quality and best kind of nori are also called „delicate shin-Nori“ that means that is harvested earlier in the season, and the quality is superior.
This type of nori is favored for making sushi – the darker the nori, the better is for sushi. You don’t need to worry – you can make any sushi with this nori.
How to use Nori sheets for sushi
Now that you know the differences between high- and low-quality nori, and also which is the best type for sushi, it’s the ideal time to learn how to use them.
Nori is used in all kinds of sushi rolls, and it balances the roll with seaweed flavor. Besides that, it plays a crucial role by keeping the roll together. And on top of that, it has many nutritious benefits.
When you purchase your top-quality nori, you will get a packed, roasted and ready to eat nori. What are the next steps for making a perfect sushi roll?
Step 1: Decide how to roll
Sushi rolls can be rolled circular, square or even triangular. The choice of the shape is strictly personal. What else is important to decide is the quantity of nori that you will use – either half a sheet or a whole sheet. If you are a newbie in making sushi rolls use an entire nori sheet, as you can use as much filling as you want. That way, there will be no problems with closing your sushi roll.
Step 2: Divide and roll
Before rolling, you need to divide your nori sheet. To do that fold it in half, and then gently tear along the seam so that you end up with two halves.
We recommend that you start rolling your sushi with a simpler roll such as maki roll (see recipes). This roll consists of a nori sheet with a layer of sushi rice and filling on top of the rice. Simple and delicious. And the rolling is not hard too.
Start by placing a nori sheet on a flat and dry surface. Spread the previously cooked sushi rice (see step-by-step guide) on the nori and distribute the rice with your fingers evenly on the sheet.
Pro tip: In order to avoid sticking rice to your hands, wet your hands with cold water.
For one nori sheet use 150 g (5oz) of cooked rice, but don’t cover the nori entirely with it. Leave about 2 cm (0.75 inches) space on one side.
Next, there are two methods to roll your sushi – by hand or by a mat (recommended).
• Rolling by hand
For hand rolling start with the side that has rice – this way, your roll will close very simply. Roll your sushi until the empty part of the nori doesn’t touch the roll. Then, press it gently with your fingers and seal the roll.
• Rolling with a rolling mat
For using a rolling mat like this, align the edge of the nori with rice on it and the edge of the mat. Next, lift the mat with your fingers and start rolling. Roll the nori sheet until the remaining section of nori sticks to the roll. Press gently and close it.
That’s it! You have your sushi roll wrapped with delicious nori!
Where to buy the best Nori
Your best nori sheets you can find in most Asian stores and also in big supermarkets. Of course, there are many producers and many different types at different costs and values.
Keep in mind our advice about different types on nori sheets. Follow them, and your best sushi roll ever is on its way!
Additionally, it is important to know that nori sheets are hard to store after opening because they tend to absorb moisture easily. After opening keep them in ziplock packets or an airtight container.
Furthermore, when you buy fresh nori it is very dry and once it interacts with the rice, it becomes sticky, and it acts as the „skin“ for the sushi roll.
Thus, in order to make the most of the nori, keep it in a super-dry environment before using. If not, it will not stick well, and the sushi roll will probably fall apart fast.
Where to use Nori in dishes
Now that you’ve gotten your info on nori, here are some recipes in which you can use this yummy seaweed:
• Homemade sushi
Obvious and easy one. We already explained how to roll your sushi roll so that nothing can stop you now. Homemade sushi is more painless and delicious than you can even imagine!
• Soup or rice topping
The perfect way to season your bowl of soup or rice – just slice your nori into fine ribbons and put it on your soup or some other meal. You can use nori topping for various dishes such as omelets, fish, salads or anything else you think of.
• Nori chips
Something easy breezy! This meal takes almost no time – chop nori into smaller pieces (chips alike), add seasoning and sesame oil and lightly toast it. And that’s it. Your nori chips are ready!
Does Nori have any health benefits?
Absolutely! Nori seaweed is highly healthy food, and a little bit of nori goes a long way.
Here are a few essential nori health benefits
Excellent source of vitamins and minerals
Nori seaweed, as also other seaweeds, is a great source of vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fats. A real vitamin booster!
Contains a range of antioxidants
Seaweed contains lots of antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C and E, carotenoids and flavonoids. These antioxidants protect your body from cell damage.
Can help you lose weight
Eating more nori can help you lose weight because it contains a small number of calories, it’s high with protein, and it will increase your metabolism.
Find out more about health benefits on: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-seaweed#section3