Mekabu Seaweed: The Japanese Food You Should Know About
Never heard of "mekabu"? If you haven't, you're certainly not alone! In Japan, it's commonly eaten for its nice texture, taste, and nutritional benefits. Outside of Japan it's still relatively unknown. This article will give you information on the mekabu seaweed, how it's eaten, and its nutritional properties.
Many people all over the world know about the wakame seaweed, a common ingredient in Japanese cuisine used for instance for making wakame soup. Much fewer people know, however, about wakame's close relative, the "mekabu" seaweed. The names are different but mekabu actually comes from the same plant as wakame. The difference is that wakame is the leafy part of the seaweed, whereas mekabu is the part just above the root system. Both parts of the plant are commonly used in Japanese cuisine, but the way to eat it is quite different.
How The Japanese Eat Mekabu
Mekabu, as you saw in the picture in the previous section, is wavy and is shaped like an elongated leaf when spread out. To prepare it for consumption, most commonly, it is heated then cut into julienne. The heating process gives it a slimy texture and the pieces of thinly sliced mekabu are similar to tiny soft noodles.
It can be found in Japan in the refrigerated section of supermarkets. Mekabu seaweed usually come in small plastics containers such as the one pictured above. It has a mild oceanic sweetness and saltiness. To add extra flavor, most of the time, it is eaten by adding a little tare sauce (soy-based sauce). Ponzu sauce (a mix of soy sauce and citrus juice) is also commonly added to the mekabu.
The most basic way to eat it is by using it as a topping on a bowl of plain rice. It can also be added in soups or even to salads. If you have never tried it, you may be pleasantly surprised at the extra flavor and texture it gives to a plain bowl of rice or a simple soup.
The taste is one good reason to have mekabu. Another reason is the abundance of nutrients in this seaweed.
Mekabu's Nutritional Information
Mekabu is a good source of vitamin A, C, E, and especially K. Vitamin K is an essential molecule that assists the body in its blood clotting mechanism. It's also believed to have good benefits for maintaining healthy bones. It's also an excellent source of folates, a type of B vitamin used in cell division, and iodine, which is used by the body to produce thyroid hormones. Mekabu also has some dietary fibers which promote digestion, and it is overall low in calories. On top of that, it has lots of antioxidants! By eating mekabu, you get plenty of vitamins and minerals for a low-calorie intake. The dietary fibers that stimulate digestion are great for burning fat as well!
Adding mekabu to your meals would be a great way to get good nutrition, and although the slimy texture may not be liked by everyone initially, it is definitely something many come to enjoy once a few tries are given! I personally wasn't a fan at first, now I reach for it quite regularly when I go to the supermarket in Japan. If you live overseas, you can probably find frozen versions of it in supermarkets that hold Japanese products.