Algae have been present in Asian dishes for centuries, whereas in our country, we have yet to know them as food that enriches the taste. Besides the taste, the algae are rich in nutrients. They contain all essential amino acids, omega-3 fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins. At the same time, their cultivation can be environmentally friendly, as they do not require much freshwater and surface area but produce a lot of oxygen when growing.
Algae grown in contaminated waters absorb toxins from the environment. For the use of algae in a diet, it is necessary to use those produced in a controlled environment and with an eco-certificate. There are many types of edible algae and they also differ in substance. In some studies, it was shown that algae consumption decreases high blood pressure and high blood sugar.
Nori algae are one of the most widely known types of algae. Many of us first recognized them as part of sushi. Nori algae can also be enjoyed in salads, sauces, or on their own as chips made of algae flakes. We glue together a few Nori flakes with water, cut them, and bake them in an oven. Nori also has a reputation for having high calcium levels as well as copper, iron, phosphorus, and selenium.
Wakame in Kombu algae contain high levels of iodine and also magnesium, manganese, and omega-3 fatty acids. When cooking legumes, the use of these types of algae is very useful, because they soften the legumes, so that they are easier to digest and don't cause bloating. When cooking legumes, add dried Wakame or Kombu algae to a pot. After cooking, take the algae out. They leave a very mild and pleasant taste. You can cut cooked algae to little pieces and add them to sauces or soups. Wakame is also used in salads because of its mildly sweet taste.
The Spirulina and Chlorella powders have been increasingly present on the food supplement shelves over the last few years. Spirulina powder is often added to smoothies and drinks, but it can also be used fresh with a texture of a spread. In addition, Spirulina contains many proteins; add one tablespoon of spirulina powder to a 4 g protein drink. With fresh Spirulina, the values are even higher. And Chlorella got its name because of the high levels of chlorophyll and, like Spirulina, it acts as detox. We can add it to smoothies and juices. They contain high values of calcium, magnesium, vitamin E, and B.
The plant variety of gelatine, Agar-Agar, is made of Ogonori algae. Agar-agar is excellent for thickening foods and desserts because it has no taste, color, and odor.
In Asian dishes, algae can be used in 101 ways but for many of us, they are still an unexplored element in the kitchen. We can try to spice up our meals with the addition of algae and enrich them with umami flavors and enjoy their beneficial effects. Like everything we put into the body, we have to pay attention to algae's origin.