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An edible paper chock-full of nutrients, nori makes a long journey from the ocean to the sushi bar. Learn what holds your california roll together with Groupon’s guide to this sensational seaweed.
Sushi is common enough today that most people recognize nori, the dark-green or purple seaweed paper that encases each roll’s ingredients. Not only does nori keep sushi from falling apart, it adds a dose of vitamins and minerals including calcium, iron, and potassium to each bite.
In the past, farmers simply plucked naturally grown algae from the sea, cleaned off all the mermaid hairs, and dried it into nori. Today, its life cycle begins in a building that may resemble a swimming pool or bathhouse at first glance: a big, sunny seedling center lined with wide, shallow tanks of seawater. Each tank is lined with oyster shells, which act as mineral-rich food for Porphyra spores. After they’ve been feeding and growing for about five months, it’s time to seed the nets. Rotating drums are wound with synthetic nets, then spun through the tanks for 20–60 minutes to become saturated with spores.
At that point, the operation moves to the sea, where the nets are attached to bamboo poles to continue their life and grow into long, ragged pennants amid the tides. Once harvested, the plants are washed, ground into a pulp, and flattened into sheets. Finally, the sheets are toasted, graded, and readied for consumption, either as the partly rehydrated casing around sushi rolls or by themselves for a snack as healthy and crunchy as toasted Flintstones vitamins.