While I do eat fish and seafood, I usually reserve it for when I go out for sushi. Sea vegetables, on the other hand, are regular inclusions in my meals. A classmate back in my holistic nutrition college days got me into kelp noodles for salads and last-second stir fry additions, and I've used the delicious (but expensive) arame and hiziki in sweet-sour sautees with tofu or other veggies (mushrooms, carrots and bell peppers are delicious!). In cooking classes I was able to sample dulse, kombu and wakame (unfortunately dulse was the only one I found slightly palatable), and of course you've seen me use agar-agar in recipes like my Vegmallow Fluff.
However, I adore nori above all the other sea vegetables. Even as a kid, I'd eat the plain, toasted sheets of the seaweed like chips, and when I found these "Nori Krinkles" at the health food store I was almost giddy. I won't lie - I ate the whole bag the first time I bought them - but I started using them on salads and stirred into rice or noodles as well for that little pop of sea flavour. Nori even made it into a batch of impromptu pasta sauce for a vegetarian alternative to the anchovy paste that's in most marinaras.
One of the neatest things I've used nori for was actually as a soil additive when I was starting this year's tomato, pepper and groundcherry seedlings. I had read somewhere that seaweed made a wonderful fertilizer, and since I couldn't find a seaweed-based formula at our local garden centre I figured why not try making my own? A mix of 3 parts topsoil to 1 part shredded, soaked nori filled my little starter pots, and I have to say that the seedlings are stronger this year than any other time I've tried to grow them. I have to attribute that to the nutritional qualities of the sea vegetable, since nothing else changed in the sprouting process!
One thing I never tried to do with any sea vegetable was bake with it. The minerally, saline quality of most sea vegetables makes it a little awkward to incorporate into traditional goods, but I wanted to find something that would work for this month's Recipe Redux (featuring small fish and/or sea vegetables). I finally found my answer in an old copy of American Macrobiotic Cuisine by Meredith McCarty, where a little "variation" note on a breadstick recipe mentioned making nori crackers. I played around with the original recipe, which was admittedly very plain, and added ginger, whole wheat flour, flaxseed and toasted sesame oil along with the shredded seaweed. The result was almost like a sushi bar in a cracker - sesame, nori and a little ginger meshed beautifully into a portable, snackable form!
Nori Seed Crackers
Makes about 14
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup flour
3 tbsp ground flax seed
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
2 tbsp finely minced toasted nori
1/3 cup water
1/2 tbsp unflavoured oil (I used canola)
1/2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- Whisk together the flours, flaxseed, salt, ginger, sesame seeds and nori in a large bowl, set aside.
- In a medium pot, combine the water and oils and warm until barely simmering.
- Add to the flour mixture, beating well until a smooth dough forms.
- Cover with a towel and set aside for 2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350F and line a large cookie sheet with parchment or silicone.
- Roll out the dough as thin as possible between two sheets of waxed paper, cut out as desired and place on the lined sheets.
- Dock with a fork.
- Bake 20-25 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the crackers cool completely inside.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 days.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 54.9Total Fat: 2.3 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 83.6 mg
Total Carbs: 7.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.2 gProtein: 1.7 g