Sea plants are edible “leafy greens” that grow in water. These plants are typically full of minerals including iodine. Incorporating sea plants into your diet can be great for your health but it may seem difficult at first. Many people ask, “How do eat them?” or “How can I tone down the sea flavor?” If you’re asking the same things then this article is for you.
There are many types of sea plants. The commons ones you may know from your favorite Asian restaurant are the brown algae and red algae like Kombu, Wakame, and Nori. See the list below for additional types and the gallery above for pictures.
- Agar-Agar (a great binding agent to replace flour or starches)
- Sea Lettuce
And if you’re looking for something unusual, there is Salicornia, also known as sea beans. Harder to find than most of the algae but if you find them in your store, try adding them to a stir fry dish. They have a stronger salty flavor than most fThey’ve got a good protein and mineral content and like algae, it’s a fantastic source of iodine.
The easiest introduction to sea plants is a sea plant seasoning. Bragg makes an Organic Sea Kelp Delight Seasoning that you can shake onto your food. The main ingredient is kelp, but there are so many other herbs that there is no sea flavor. It’s easy to use, just shake a little seasoning onto your soup, veggies, fish, meat, stir-fry, beans, rice, or into your homemade salad dressing.
One step further, you could season your food with kombu or wakame directly instead of using a spice mix.
When you cook whole grains, try throwing a strip of kombu into the pot. As the grains cook and absorb the water, they will also absorb the minerals from the kombu. By the end you have mineral-rich rice/quinoa/millet/oats with some added flavor. You won’t have to add as much salt to your food either because the minerals from the kombu give us a very mild salty flavor (less salty than if you were to add table salt on your own). Just take the kombu out before you serve your cooked whole grains.
Making bone broths or vegan mineral broths call for the addition of sea veggies. They are so rich in minerals that it would be a shame to make broth without it. Just a little goes a long way so even if the pot is filled to the top with water and your other ingredients, only 1 or 2 strips will do. Now you can drink this broth straight, but I prefer to utilize this food in my other cooking. For example, besides cooking grains with a strip of kombu, you could cook them with the broth instead of plain water. Or if you’re making soup, use the broth instead. Maybe you’re sautéing veggies and deglaze the pan with a bit of mineral broth. Or you might even use it in your homemade hummus recipe.
You can mix some shredded sea veggies in with your pasta or rice (recipe) for an extra flavor profile and color. Try this with any high carbohydrate food like potatoes. Have you ever tried seaweed in your latkes (recipe)?
(all recipes could be adjusted basted on allergies and dietary choices to use healthier ingredients)