Going out to your favorite sushi restaurant is not always practical when you have a craving for sushi. With a little practice, it can be made from the comfort of your own home, whenever the mood strikes.
To make sushi, you must start with the right seaweed. You may find multiple different kinds and grades of sushi at your favorite grocery store, but nori sheets are the best type of seaweed to create delicious, sturdy sushi rolls and cones.
What makes for the best seaweed for sushi? The best seaweed for sushi is called nori seaweed, as it comes in ready-to-use sheets. The best nori is pure, dark green or black, shiny, and not brittle or easily broken.
In this article, you’ll not only learn about the different types of seaweed you can try, but we’ll also share the 5 best brands of seaweed for sushi that you can have delivered straight from Amazon.
Types of Seaweed
There are hundreds of different types of seaweed, so what we’re going to cover here are the main types of edible seaweed.
Where you live in the world may determine which types of seaweed you have available, but these are the general options.
Here are the types of edible seaweed:
- Nori – prepared by being pressed into sheets, similar to paper, which makes it the best choice for rolling sushi
- Sea Lettuce – also called green nori, this type of seaweed can be pressed into sheets and used for sushi but is much more commonly sold in bite-sized pieces, perfect for salad
- Kombu – a type of edible kelp, used mainly as a flavor enhancer, the main ingredient used to make the soup dashi as well as kombucha
- Wakami – a deep, dark green seaweed known for its silky texture and sweet flavor, most commonly used in miso soup
- Dulse – grows primarily in the northern regions of both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, making it most popular in Canada, Ireland, and Scotland, used as either a snack or flavor enhancer
- Irish Moss – has a high concentration of carrageen, which is sweet and used as a thickening agent, making this seaweed popular for use in desserts like ice cream or tapioca pudding
- Hijiki – is a twig-like type of seaweed often cooked into stir-fry
Nori is the best choice for making sushi since it is sold pressed into sheets and ready to use dry, without reconstituting. Whether you’re cut rolling or hand rolling, it will hold up without issue.
In Britain and Japan, most sushi packages show a grade, expressed by either color or letter, if you know what to look for.
This isn’t as common for nori sheets sold within North America, where packages are more likely to be labeled as “premium” or simply nori.
Before we go any further, it should be mentioned here that certain types of seaweed, including nori, may contain trace amounts of lead. This can be dangerous for pregnant women and may cause cancer if consumed in excess.
Best Sushi Nori
The best sushi nori can be chosen by color and shine, weight and thickness, consistency, and purity.
If your package of seaweed isn’t labeled with a grade or color, look for the following qualities:
- Dark black color (the darker the better)
- Shiny and reflective
- Thick and not easily torn or ripped
- Try to find the heaviest nori for the number of sheets per package
- Purity (check the ingredients list and avoid nori mixed with other types of seaweed)
It’s also best to get nori that has been roasted, rather than raw.
While there is some evidence suggesting the nutritional content in dried, raw seaweed is higher than that of seaweed that has been roasted, it simply isn’t as easy to use for sushi.
Roasted nori is also harder to break and won’t fall apart under your chopsticks.
The Best Seaweed for Sushi
We’ve analyzed all the top brands of seaweed for sushi for the qualities listed above and curated a list of the top 5 choices for making sushi in the comfort of your own home.
Once you’ve made your choice, why not try giving our recipe for Boston roll sushi a try and tell us how it went?
Note: Be sure to read the package of any product you buy to make sure it is suitable for your diet and/or allergies. Some nori products may contain trace amounts of lead and should not be consumed in excess or by pregnant women.
1. Best of Thailand Organic Sushi Nori
This nori from Thailand is rated premium A Gold grade, indicating the highest quality of seaweed you can buy.
The sheets are packaged in individual resealable bags to retain freshness for longer.
There is nothing added to compromised the rich, umami flavor, and this seaweed is roasted twice to achieve the perfect crispy texture.
- Premium quality, Gold grade
- Crisp but perfect for rolling
The biggest complaint about these nori sheets is the strong flavor, which is actually a sign of a great indicator of premium quality, but it can also be a bit of a shock to those who are new to seaweed or sushi.
2. One Organic Premium Sushi Nori
This brand of sushi nori is graded as silver, rather than gold, which is still a premium quality and, in most cases, restaurant quality.
It is slightly thinner and less chewy, but for less-than-professional chefs, this can actually make it easier to create sushi that isn’t chewy or overly fishy flavored.
- Silver grade is premium quality though less chewy than Gold standard nori
- Available in pages of 10, 50, or 100
- Manufactured in a facility free from peanuts and tree nuts
For true sushi aficionados, these sheets are lighter in flavor and flakier than a gold graded option, however, the difference is not noticeable to most people and even preferable to many.
3. gimMe Restaurant-style Sushi Nori Sheets
gimMe is well known for its seaweed snacks, but its nori sheets are just as delicious and more versatile.
The extra-thick sheets are easy for even first-time sushi-makers to roll, but they’re also tasty to snack on straight out of the bag.
- Package of 9 nori sheets weighted the same as competing packages of 10 sheets
- Carefully perforated to make rolling and slicing easy
- Certified organic and gluten-free
The transition to 9 thicker sheets rather than 10 sheets totally the same weight is relatively new and not reflected in all the sales material yet.
While the quality and ease of use should be better, it is no doubt frustrating to get only 9 sheets if you were expecting 10.
4. Nagai Deluxe Sushi Nori
This product doesn’t have a lot of information on the package or in the sales material, but it is high quality and perfect for rolling full-sized sushi at home.
It’s labeled for use in restaurants and foodservice, so if you’ve got a catering business or a large, hungry family, you won’t be disappointed.
- Roasted seaweed as the only ingredient
- Available in packs of 50, either single or 2-pack
- Full sheets that are not perforated
These sheets are one of the few you will find that is not perforated. If you’re making thick, futomaki sushi rolls, this won’t be a problem.
However, if you like to experiment with half sheets or thinner rolls like hosomaki or tamaki hand rolls, you will need a sharp knife to cut them down to size.
5. Kimnori Premium Roasted Seaweed
If you’re new to sushi rolling or don’t make it often, these packs of 10 will be perfect for you.
It’s relatively easy to use all the sheets for a single meal for 2 or side for a larger family and you don’t have to worry about the remaining sheets going stale if they’re forgotten in the pantry.
- Package of 10 sheets, is great as an introduction to seaweed
- Organic seaweed is the only ingredient
- Restaurant quality, certified organic, gluten-free, and kosher
It is also often delivered in a soft paper envelope, leading some delivery services to believe it can be folded or rolled. Luckily, the quality of the sheets is good enough to stand up to most shipping damage, but it’s still less than ideal.
What Is the Difference Between Kelp and Seaweed?
Kelp is a type or sub-group of seaweed. Seaweed is the parent term for a wide variety of marine plants and algae, growing in many different shapes, sizes, locations, colors, and other variations.
Sea kelp is the largest sub-group, considered a brown seaweed, and also tends to be the largest type of seaweed in physical size as well.
Unlike most free-ranging forms of seaweed, kelp fixes itself to a single position and grows in massive underwater forests.
Edible kelp is generally called kombu.
Is Seaweed a Vegetable?
Edible seaweed is a vegetable, yes, though it’s often further classified as a sea vegetable. The definition of a vegetable is simply a plant used as food, which is applicable to edible varieties of seaweed.
Can You Eat Raw Seaweed?
Edible seaweed can be eaten raw, yes, though we don’t exactly recommend grabbing a sandy handful from the beach and shoving it in your mouth.
It should be harvested by someone who knows what they’re doing and that the plant you are eating is safe. Just like mushrooms, not all varieties of seaweed are safe for human consumption.