Japanese ingredients for your healthy life

Nori and its ingredients

From the early daysc..

Nori has been in use in Japan for a very long time and in many ways it has made its mark on Japanese culinary habits and culture as one of the defining ingredients in food. Farming methods, use in cooking and types of nori have of course evolved over the years to get us to where we are now but the basic form of nori as a dried form of seaweed has remained consistent and this simplicity is perhaps the key to its subtle flavour and incredible health benefits. Letfs look at nori and its ingredients a little further.

 

Ancient - prehistoric time
As most people know, Japan is surrounded by the ocean so it has a rich source of ocean resources. From the sites of ancient peoplefs ruins, we can easily imagine that people used to eat seaweed as an ingredient back then although there arenft clear seaweed remains on sites actually discovered but shells have certainly been found. It would have been an easy way to get salt in their body as an important nutrition from eating seaweed so it does seem logical that they would have eaten it as a key ingredient in food.

 

Mythology era
Norifs history is in Fudoki which is an ancient record of provincial culture. When Takeru Yamato was traveling in Kasumigaura, he found a pond where ea lot of nori was dryingf and named the place eNorihamaf. That is the first enorif record in Japan (early 4th century).

 

In the records, there are three types of nori written about and one of them was probably for making salt. Back then, what they did to make salt was to pour seawater on alga again and again, dry it out, burn the alga, put the ash in the seawater and boil it out. This method took a very long time and it was a coastal tradition.

 

Buddhism and seafood legacy
When buddhism came to Japan, people from Asuka and Nara stopped eating meat and always had vegetables and seafood as their ingredients instead. For that reason, seaweed was very popular and highly consumed. There were more than 20 kinds of seaweed they used to eat. In the year 702, people used to pay tribute to the emperor and nori was the best food out of all the foods from the sea supposedly under Taiho code. Taiho code was was an administrative reorganization enacted in 703 in Japan at the end of the Asuka period.

 

In Japan, therefs a eNori dayf which is the 6th of February. Because the date was the start of the tax payment for nori.

 

Kamakura era to warring states periods
In the Kamakura era, nori became very popular with nuns. However, once the war period started, because of the food warriors needed, nori consumption diminished as it is not an ingredient that offers a great amount of energy which was what was needed at the time..

 

* Also, nori was still eaten raw at that time, it wasnft like dried nori sheets like nowadays.


Advancements

Edo era
In the Edo era, finally they started making the authentic nori like we have now and started farming it as well. Also, thinly cut nori was started in Asakusa in Tokyo. Asakusa nori and three kinds of nori were recorded in Fudoki in 1638.

 

Farming nori
They used seaweed from driftwood, shells and rock until late Edo era. There was a fish preserve called eIkesuf which kept fish for the Shogun who was the military ruler of the nation. One Day, they found some seaweed in the water so they thought about growing seaweed in Ikesu by moving the plants in there. They put a stick in and the seaweed appeared! That was the start of farming nori.

 

They were using branches from trees till the Meiji era which followed the Edo but nori farms expanded so widely that they run out the trees. Then they adopted using bamboo instead, even though bamboo was actually avoided in the Edo era as it indeed does absorb seawater and falls down, which means the quality of nori both in colour and the flavour goes bad because once it falls down they canft get sunlight properly. However, due to economical reasons, bamboo was used instead of branches from trees in approximately 90% of the seaweed farms in the early Showa era.
Then of course they ran out of bamboo too at some stage and due to overall difficulty of use, they developed nets for farming nori and reached the current technology level of using the current nori nets, the materials used have of course continued to develop but the important thing was that nets could now allow for even distribution of sunshine and a stable position in the water.

 

Nowadays
Nowadays, nori is farmed on nets positioned horizontally using nori spores. One net sheet (2 m x 20 m) can make 300 nori sheets.

 

If youfre not aware of it already, nori is very good for you. Nori has lots of vitamins such as B1, B2, B6, A, C and niacin. Nori is actually very high in fibre and is also believed to reduce cholesterol. It is also believed by many people that nori can help to reduce fat absorption by as much as 70% because of the seaweedfs natural digestive enzyme called lipase which helps to break down fats. One of the other great things about nori is that it is also high in omega 3 fatty acids and fiber! Talk about a super food, nori is not only tasty, but it is very good for you too!

 

Nori has been around for a long time and although the technology for farming it has evolved over time the basic product has not changed itfs basic form much for a long time which demonstrates that it has reached its pinnacle. Peoplefs unique ideas and Japanese traditional culture brought nori to the current century where we continue to enjoy this wonderful food and ingredient in food! I hope you can find nori easily and enjoy it in your culinary life!