Anyone who has enjoyed sushi, whether in Japan or at their local Japanese restaurant, surely understands just how integral sushi seaweed (nori) is to every roll, wrap, or bite of so many varieties of sushi. Imagine what your favorite sushi rolls would be like without that umami salty sea flavor enhancing the combination of rice and fish! Because nori is a naturally growing product, it involves a bit of effort to get from strands of seaweed growing naturally into the sheet shape we are all so familiar with. So, how is this well-loved sushi component made?
History of Nori
The first records of nori as a commonly eaten food date back as far as 987 in an old Japanese story, Utsubo Monogatari. Historically, it was ground up and eaten as a paste; however, by the 1750s, the paper-making process was invented in Asakusa, Edo (now called Tokyo), and applied to the seaweed. By the 20th century, nori consumption was declining. Post World War II, food supply was limited and Japan needed all the food it could produce. Which meant, unfortunately, that nori growth almost disappeared in Japan because traditional cultivation methods were not effective in this mad rush to produce enough food. Fortunately, they learned a technique from a similar situation in Wales and nori was saved.
Today, growing nori is still largely a natural process. The nori plants grow on nets that are suspended near the sea’s surface and tended to and harvested by farmers in boats. Once the nori is grown, it is processed with automated machines that replicate the traditional pressing machines, but faster. The machines allow for a more consistent paper-thin product.
To enjoy sushi and other nori-imbued Japanese foods, come visit your local Japanese restaurant, Sushi Joa, in Kirkland today!