My Nori Story
It’s funny how much I love all sea vegetables now, because for years my parents used to go out and eat sushi with their friends- every Friday night. And every Friday night, while they would drool over the menu and have a blast dabbling, trying every amazing roll and crazy delicacy- my dad even invented and named rolls with the sushi chef- their ichi ahi saki ban (spicy tuna with salmon on top) was their crowning achievement. And yet I turned up my nose and at least 50 times I chose the same meal, the #1: greasy saucy chicken teriyaki (again, this was my past life when I was afraid to break out of the box) with a mayo-laden pasta salad, a tiny “salad” of iceberg lettuce and an orange wedge, and vegetable tempura. Yes, apparently it was good enough to eat every time (and I’ll admit I miss that crunchy tempura-battered Japanese sweet potato now that I think about it) but looking back I really wish I had gotten over my aversion to nori sooner. It wasn’t even the raw fish that weirded me out- it was that the seaweed “smelled like the ocean.”
“Ok, I’ll Have a Taste…”
Finally after years of squeamishly eying their rolls, I’d had enough of their oohing and ahhing over their meals, and surely the novelty of my #1 had long since worn down. So I tried an avocado roll. I didn’t love it right away, but after a few more weeks of trying a bite here and there, somewhere along the lines I started to really like it and then it was all downhill from there for my pocketbook! Thus my only caution- sushi (only veggie for us now of course) is an acquired taste, but one you’ve “acquired” it you might wish you hadn’t for the sake of your budget! I’ve turned more than one friend onto the power of the weekly yearnings for creamy avocado, fresh leafy greens and sprouts, crunchy carrots and cool avocado all rolled in crispy-soft nori and dunked in salty tamari spiked with a big drop of hot wasabi. I could eat it every night.
Our Nightly Fine Dining
Lucky for us, we happen to work with (and live in the apartment above the house of) a raw food chef- the one and only Ken Dorr! I tease Ken that his “restaurant” is my favorite place to eat- I’ve even given it one of the Los Angeles/New York swank raw restaurant name it deserves: 8400. Ok, so it’s our address number. And yes, it is better than anything I’ve tasted in any restaurant. Sushi was the only thing we were missing. Ken and Mario had enjoyed sushi back before they were vegan too, but had since given up on trying to find affordable places with enough veggie options and had never attempted to make their own. So since I have to get my sea-fix, I showed Ken how to roll our own and it took him all of five minutes to start cranking out the most innovative, colorful, delicious rolls any of us had ever seen. We eat it once a week now it seems, and they just get better and better. We’re also looking forward to hitting up Sushi Night at our favorite new San Diego vegan hotspot Casa De Luz.
How Does He Do It?
Ken usually starts with an avocado mash and/or nut pate so that everything sticks easily in the roll. Then he adds the entire rainbow- shredded carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, greens, cilantro, green onions, purple cauliflower… you name it- we’ve rolled it up in nori. And it never disappoints. And even though it always blows us away with the flavor and presentation, it never costs what it would out at a sushi bar! Ken likes to pair the rolls with a side of his amazing fermented vegetables (like the ones he made that raw icon Mimi Kirk loved!) and maybe a sprouted wild rice dish and marinated mushrooms with a savory sauce made with his raw yogurt.
A Guilt-Free, Nutritious Snack? Yes Please!
Honestly, we really like all the nori sheets and snacks we’ve ever had, but this one is a standout for an important reason so we had to share it with you. Out of all the yummy choices emerging in this category, we chose to tell you about SeaSnax because they are verified free of genetically modified organisms by the Non-GMO Project! This is really important to us at Kale U- we always read everything to make sure it’s organic, and unless it’s specified ORGANIC and/or NON-GMO, we won’t have anything to do with products that contain likely suspects of genetic modification like corn or soy. Even though I would love to enjoy some traditional corn tortillas or tofu, if I can’t find organic, I will not buy it. No sighing and throwing an inferior product in the basket. Boycott. 100% has been our policy and will not change.
There are truly so few packaged products out there that meet these standards, we’re delighted that the Non-GMO Project has started to verify products and even point them out to me with little signs on the shelves while I’m shopping.
The Right to Know (What’s In Our Food)
There are a lot of dedicated, passionate, hard-working people who are giving the effort to protect us all from the potentially devastating effects of transgenic crops and we are so thankful for their contributions. We are volunteering to collect signatures for the California Right to Know Ballot Initiative because we’re leaping at the opportunity to really dig in our heels as a mass and enact some serious change starting here in California! I don’t mean to get too sidetracked from my delicious nori-foods kick, but I truly feel like if you don’t know much about GMOs, the best way you could possibly spend the next few hours is to get some information about what is happening to our global food supply, ask why, and get shed some light on the lies we are being fed. Literally. The documentary The Future of Food and the book the Seeds of Deception are good places to start getting mad.
Back to the Snacks!
I like SeaSnax because they have a strangely satisfying, crunchy texture- it’s actually not like any other food I can describe… crispy, yet thinner than paper- even thinner than a regular nori sheet that you would use to make sushi. They have several flavors, and I haven’t tried them all yet, but I can’t wait to and I hope they start carrying all the flavors on our local stores soon. While here in the states most people wouldn’t consider seaweed a staple in their diet, the SeaSnax website explains that in Korea sea vegetables are a part of almost every meal. The only reason I don’t eat nori every day is that it can get a little spendy at the rate I can eat it- as many reviewers agree, these babies are strangely addictive!
You can read more about the uses and benefits of sea vegetables including arame, dulse, and wakame in this handy guide by Whole Foods, and I’ll add one that it doesn’t mention- Irish moss, which is one of our “secret ingredients” in a lot of our desserts! The featured image source and a source of a great set of instructions for making your own raw vegan sushi: Frederic Patenaude’s post.
Seaweed is rich in minerals including iodine, calcium, sodium, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, copper and selenium and vitamins B1, B6, C and E. Also, seaweed provides fiber, enzymes and high quality proteins. Sea vegetables also have a higher proportion of essential fatty acids than land plants! One sheet of raw nori usually conatins about .5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids. The iodine found in seaweed stimulates the thyroid, increasing metabolism.
Where are you in your Nori Story? Thinking of trying it? Already love it? Sound off on vegan sea-foods in the comments!