Seaweed is under-exploited as a food in the West, according to new research.
While the stuff has been a central part of people’s diets in Asia for centuries, with demand often outstripping supply, scientists at the University of Southern Denmark say we seem to have lost our appetite for it in the west.
More than 20 varieties of seaweed are consumed in Japan, including one used as a soup stock known as “dashi” though to have chemicals creating the “fifth flavour” or “umami”. It is the fifth basic taste alongside sour, sweet, bitter and salty.
Fresh research published in the journal Trends in Food Science and Technology describes our seaweed consumption as “minimal”.
One academic, physicist Prof Ole Mouritsen, says we’ve either forgotten how to eat it, or perhaps don’t like the thought of having something washed up from the seaside on our dinner plates.
Yet Britain has lots of untapped potential, with many varieties of seaweed which have not been tried. And our coastline is a similar size to Japan’s.
The benefits of eating seaweed are considerable. The stuff is packed with natural antioxidants like polyphenols, and high in minerals including calcium, as well as soluble and insoluble dietary fibres. Protein content varies to up to a third of dry weight, though some species are almost 50% protein.
Some coastal areas of the west do retain some traditional seaweed dishes, including California and Maine in the States, Nova Scotia and British Columbia, and, closer to home, in Brittany, Wales, Iceland and Ireland. (In Ireland the industry is worth nearly £15m annually.)
Use your loaf
A study from Sheffield Hallam University has discovered that seaweed can be included in bread as a sodium alternative.
Another idea is to enjoy this extraordinarily nutritious foodstuff, which has things in it that land plants simply don’t have at the same levels, in traditional Japanese sushi dishes.
So next time you’re considering a fast food delivery sushi could top the menu rather than the more traditional takeaway options.
What YouMeSushi Offers
If you’re in the UK’s capital this summer and on the hunt for sushi Central London has plenty of outlets.
For the last four years, at YouMeSushi we have been offering a sushi delivery service in London, with a fresh, unique menu. All items are handmade with care and using only locally sourced ingredients. It’s all so fresh that no food is kept on our premises overnight.
Our first takeaway store was set up in Marylebone, but we now have bases in Westfield Shopping Centre, and Gray’s Inn and Tottenham Court Roads.
Log on to our user-friendly website to find our store which is nearest to you, and to see our menu in full. We’ve got an extensive range of rolls, hot and cold dishes, deserts and drinks. Or check out our 14, 16 and 18 piece sushi boxes – a house speciality!
We’re open from 11am until 10pm, Monday to Wednesday, 10.30pm all other nights.