What is Nori?
Up front, I want you to know that nori (のり) means seaweed in Japanese.
But you know there is more to seaweed than that right? Otherwise, I wouldn’t need to write this explainer would I?
Actually, it’s more like “edible seaweed” or even “edible sea vegetable.”
Yea, I think we’ll stick with seaweed… “edible sea vegetable” just isn’t very appealing, is it?
Looks a lot like paper
When nori is made, it is laid out in large flat sheets to dry. These sheets are then cut to size before packaging.
The sheets of nori are thin (though thickness will vary from brand to brand). If you imagine them as a rough, green, sheet of paper that would be just about right.
Common dishes using nori
Nori is used in all sorts of Japanese foods like:
Just to name a few, and I’m sure I’m missing a lot. Japan truly is the food capital of the world. SO MANY different kinds of food to enjoy here.
Variety of Nori
If you visit a Japanese supermarket, you’ll find a lot more variety than I think you’d expect.
The standard nori
There are the sheets of nori as I’ve discussed above. They’re the most common, and you’ll find them in a variety of sizes.
But then you’ll start seeing other things like aonori (blue seaweed). It’s not blue, it’s a darker green. It’s usually ground into nearly a powder, or cut into teeny tiny bits/strips.
Aonori is generally sprinkled on top of other foods like okonomiyaki, yakisoba, or takoyaki.
This is toasted nori with flavoring added. Sometimes it’s salt, sometimes it’s some red pepper powder, sesame, or other things.
Ajitsuke-nori is eaten like a snack in Japan. It’s crispy, salty, and delicious (if nori is your thing).
How nori is made
Here’s an interesting, albeit a bit over dramatic, video showing nori production in Japan.
And that’s nori
That’s nori in a nutshell. If you want to dive in a learn even more about it, check out the Wikipedia entry where it covers the nutritional value, health benefits/risks, and much more.