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Algae varieties (Part 2) - Choose - Consumption - Conservation

Of the twenty algae recognized as "fit for human consumption", the best known are the following:


Sea or ulva leaf: ulva lactuca

It has the shape of a bright green oak leaf. Its color is due to chlorophyll which is favorable to the acid-base balance of the body and to the detoxination of the blood. Fresh and full-bodied, it recalls the taste of sorrel.

It is a seaweed full of energy! Its vitamin content is 8 to 10 times greater than orange. Vitamin A: 2 times more than cabbage! Calcium: 10 to 20 times more than milk! Magnesium: 10 times more than wheat germ! (100% of RDI) Iron: 3 times more than the liver, 10 times more than spinach !

Dulse or deulz: palmaria palmate

It is a burgundy red alga spreading like a batavia. A mixture of sweetness and iodine, it is the most popular sea-vegetable in the North Atlantic and English sailors already took it on their long journey to preserve them from scurvy. It recalls the taste of hazelnut.

Rich in magnesium (twice as much as wheat germ), iron (493mg / kg) and vitamins A, B6, B12, C and E, it has a tonic action on the blood and the nervous system. It also contains calcium (as much as egg yolk), potassium, iodine (100% RDI) and phosphorus. With nori, it has the highest protein content in the marine plant world (20 to 35%, as much as soybean).

Nori or purple lettuce: porphyra

Nori is a Japanese word for a product made from different varieties of porphyra (there are in all about thirty) and means "alga". If the true Nori is to be imported from Japan, the wild porphyra is also harvested on the French coasts and then marketed under the name of ... Nori! The Nori has a dark purple color and flavor of smoked tea and dried mushroom. Its texture is supple and thin as a veil and it is it used in making the famous sushi. It is thus the most consumed seaweed in the world.

With 35% protein, it cheerfully replaces soy, meat or tuna. With 18% minerals in balanced form, it is also highly alkaline: high potassium content, 5 times more calcium than milk, 4 times more magnesium than wheat germ, 2.5 times more phosphorus than tuna, 2 times more iodine than shellfish and 7 times more iron than spinach. It is also rich in sulfur, vitamin A (30% of RDI), vitamin B12 (100%!) and F. Aluminum to zinc, it has all trace elements necessary for the proper functioning of the body , as well as the eight kinds of amino acids of which this one has an indispensable daily need.

Wakame: undaria pinnatifida

It is a robust marine plant that likes violent and cold currents. It reaches a length of 50 cm and lives between 6 and 12 meters of depth. Its blade is flexible and its ribs are rigid. It offers a discrete mixture of marine flavors, with an oyster taste.

This seaweed is sought after for calcium (13 times more than milk!), phosphorus (3 times more than tuna!), magnesium (twice as much as wheat germ) and iron (2 times more than parsley). It also contains thiamine and laminin which prevent the aging of the arteries and vitamins A, B1, B2, B12 and C. It is also the alga which contains the most alginic acid, chelator very effective for draining heavy metals and radioactive ions that poison our body.

Royal Kombu, saccharina

The kombu seaweed, "plant-medicine" in the Eastern tradition, a plant of health and longevity, means "happiness" in Japanese. It measures according to the species from 6 to 60 meters and is, for the two most common species in Brittany of brown color.

This seaweed has been sought since antiquity, especially for its iodine richness, concentrated up to 500 times more in brown algae than in sea water! It should not be abused (it is preferable not to exceed 5 g of dehydrated kombu or 20 g of fresh kombu per day). Iodine is beneficial for the treatment of goitre and stimulates energy metabolism. Its deficiency (rare in the West due to the abundance of salt in our diet) leads to slowness of mind.

Kombu are also rich in proteins, amino acids (protection against hypertension) and alginic acid (purifying agent of the intestines). They contain 20-30% mineral salts (8 times more calcium than milk, 5 times more iron than spinach) and vitamins A, B1, B2, niacin, B6, B12, C, E, F, K and PP.

*: R.D.I. Reference Daily Intake (in %) for 5g dehydrated algae or 20 g fresh algae.


Hijiki and arsenic

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency advises to avoid the consumption of seaweed hijiki (a black, slightly bitter seaweed sold dried). The inorganic arsenic content of the latter may exceed acceptable daily levels, even when consumed in small quantities. Among several algal samples analyzed, including dulse, porphyry and Japanese laminar (kombu), only the hijiki variety contained a high content of inorganic arsenic. Exposure to high concentrations of inorganic arsenic has been associated with gastrointestinal disorders, anemia and liver damage.

Anticoagulants and vitamin K

Algae contain large amounts of vitamin K, which is needed, among other things, for blood coagulation. People taking anticoagulant medicines should adopt a diet in which the vitamin K content is relatively stable from one day to the next. For these people, algae should not be eaten as a main meal (a sushi meal, for example). Persons on anticoagulant therapy are advised to consult a dietitian-nutritionist or a physician to learn the dietary sources of vitamin K to ensure the most stable daily intake.

Ideas to incorporate algae

The algae can be tasted hardly cooked and still crunchy; or cooked very long and almost melted in the dish. Although they usually accompany fish, there is nothing to stop cooking with poultry or meat.


Rehydrate dried seaweed. The rehydration time of the algae varies according to the type. Sea hair, sea lettuce, porphyry and dulse take only a few minutes; The spaghetti of sea will take 15 minutes; Kelp, wakame and laminaria from 30 to 60 minutes. Another liquid can be used to rehydrate other than water: white wine, vinegar, beer, etc. Avoid, however, red wine or red wine vinegar, whose tannin reacts with iodine.

The nori can be roasted dry by passing it over the flame of a gas cooker or by placing it on an electric plate. In Japan, it is a common technique for making sushi, preparing fine omelettes, or for other culinary uses of this alga.

  • Add algae at the end of cooking in soups, cooked vegetables, legumes, rice, pasta.
  • Season the seafood pizzas with it.
  • Can be added in butter sauces, mayonnaise, salad dressings, mustard.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of ground seaweed in an omelet preparation or, for a more elaborate meal, prepare a Japanese omelet, made up of a few layers of nori eggs.
  • Incorporate algae into bread, cookie, pancake and, why not, cake and muffin preparations. Some do not hesitate to make ice creams and sherbets, especially since they have a gelling power that allows the preparation to "take".
  • Rehydrate a dry seaweed, wrap it around a fish and bake or steam. Or, stuff the fish with algae. Or, marinate it for 30 minutes in lemon juice with a few spoonfuls of seaweed powder before cooking.
  • Shrimp and scallops can be steamed, wrapped in a piece of rehydrated seaweed.
  • You can also cook a whole fish in steaming after putting it on a sheet of kelp in a saucepan. Add a little water, cover and simmer over the fire for about twenty minutes.
  • Dashi: This unmistakable broth of Japanese cooking is part of a multitude of dishes, whether soups, stews or sauces. We find of the instantaneous, that it is sufficient to dilute in water, but it is very easy to prepare it ourselves. For about 2 liters of water, about 40 g of kelp and 60 g of bonito flakes are needed (a preparation based of a fish belonging to the tuna family found in Asian grocery stores). Wipe the kelp with a damp cloth and put it on fire in a saucepan with water. As soon as the first bubbles appear, check the texture of the kelp by pressing the thumbnail in its thickest part. If it penetrates easily, it is because the kelp is at a point. Otherwise, simmer for a few minutes without boiling. Set aside the kelp. Add half a cup of cold water to lower the broth, add the bonito flakes, bring to a boil and remove from heat. Allow the bonito flakes to settle to the bottom, then pass without squeezing.
  • Consumed with tofu and wakame algae: Rehydrate the algae by putting them in the cold water for about 10 minutes, drain them and cut them into coarse strips, removing the hard ribs if necessary. Slice the tofu, then cut into cubes or rectangles. Arrange seaweed and tofu in bowls, cover with dashi broth warmed and seasoned with soy sauce and sake, and garnish with thin strips of lemon peel.
  • Algae can be prepared in tempura like other vegetables. The Japanese also use them in decoration: they wrap thin strips around the tails of shrimps or around a packet of soba noodles to make nice little bundles that will be fried with vegetables or fish.
  • Marine Quiche: Fry a shallot in butter or oil, add pieces of rehydrated algae, cook for a few minutes, then put this mixture in a broken paste. Cover with a mixture of beaten eggs with a little cream and sprinkle with grated parmesan or garnish with thin slices of salmon. Cook in the oven.

Seaweed based condiments. Here are some Japanese cooking classics.

  • Mix in equal parts table salt and algae powder.
  • You can simply grill the wakame or dulse and reduce to powder, which will be added to the dish of your choice.
  • Boil several nori leaves in ½ cup of water and simmer until most of the water is absorbed to make a thick purée. Add a little tamari, cook a few more minutes and serve with rice or vegetables.
  • Grill wakame in an oven set at 180 ° C (350 ° F) for 10 to 15 minutes. Allow to cool and reduce to powder. Grill dry sesame seeds in a frying pan and grind them with seaweed powder until 80% of the seeds are pulverized. The proportion of wakame and sesame seeds can vary from 1 for 1 to 1 for 5, depending on the use to be made of it.

Tame the algae

It sometimes takes some time for the body to get used to algae, which have a very real laxative effect. It is recommended to include them gradually in the diet. Eventually, they could constitute up to 10% of the food ration, as is the case in Japan.

Anti-flatulence algae

Added to legumes as they cook, algae have the property of reducing cooking time, making them more digestible (reducing flatulence) while refining their taste and texture. This action would be attributable to their richness in glutamates.

Choice and conservation


Since the fresh seaweed market is not very established in North America, there is hardly any. However, more and more dulse or wakame salad is available in some fish shops or sushi restaurants. They are usually decorated with sesame seeds and chilli.

Fresh algae must be thoroughly rinsed in order to desalt them.

Dry seaweed is sold in sheets, ribbons, pieces or powder.

Seaweed in brine or canned algae can be found in specialty shops. The appearance and texture of canned algae are reminiscent of spinach purée.


Fresh algae: A few days in the refrigerator.

Dried seaweeds: In an airtight container, away from heat and light. The shelf life of the packaged products is generally 2 years, although in Japan they are kept much longer because the algae improve with time.

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Sources (partie 1 et 2)
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Espace des sciences. Biotechnologies marines, un vaccin pour les plantes.
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