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Nori is more than sushi ingredient

 While nori brings out taste in California rolls, it also works in a red pepper omelet.
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Date published: 10/3/2012


AP Food Editor

If you've ever had a California roll, you've had nori.

Now it's time to learn what else you can do with this ubiquitous, yet always overlooked paper-like ingredient made from seaweed.

Nori--also called laver--is a somewhat generic name for a variety of seaweeds cultivated for use mostly in Japanese cooking. I say mostly because the same varieties are added to oatmeal in Ireland. But Americans know nori best as the paper-thin black-green wrapping used in sushi.

It is produced by washing and chopping fresh seaweed to create a slurry. That mixture then is spread thin, dried, cut into sheets and lightly toasted. The result is a crunchy, dark paper with just a hint of ocean flavor.

In Japan, nori has a life beyond the sushi bar. It is consumed for breakfast with fish and rice, eaten as a snack dunked in soy sauce and used to wrap balls of rice. In recent years, the snack approach has begun to catch on in the U.S. Nori now is sold in small potato chip-like strips, often seasoned with sea salt, wasabi, even chipotle pepper.

Most grocers sell packages of 10-inch sheets of nori, usually near the sushi or in the international aisle. It also is used in Japanese snack cracker mixes.

Nori sheets usually are sold pre-toasted; use them as is for sushi. But when using the nori in other ways, toasting it briefly can improve the flavor and texture. To do this, simply use tongs to hold the sheets one at a time over a lit burner (or candle if you have an electric stove). About 10 to 15 seconds will suffice.

For ideas for using nori, check out the Off the Beaten Aisle column over on Food Network: bit.ly/NGAZAp


Start to finish: 20 minutes Serves 2

2 sheets nori seaweed, toasted 6 eggs Salt and ground black pepper 1 roasted red pepper 1 tablespoon butter 2 scallions, finely chopped cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions: 1. Crumble or cut nori into small pieces. In medium bowl, combine nori and eggs. Beat well, mixing in teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Set aside. 2. Use paper towels to blot away as much moisture as possible from red pepper. Cut it into small chunks. 3. In medium skillet over medium-high, melt butter. Reduce heat to medium and add egg mixture. Cook until bottom is firm, about 4 minutes. 4. Scatter red pepper and scallions evenly over half of egg. Sprinkle cheese over vegetables. Use spatula to carefully lift other half of omelet and gently flip it over onto fillings. Cover pan and cook for another 6 to 7 minutes. 5. When eggs are set at center and cheese has melted, cut omelet in half and season with salt and pepper, as needed. Nutrition information per serving: 370 calories; 210 calories from fat (59 percent of total calories); 24 g fat (10 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 670 mg cholesterol; 10 g carbohydrate; 27 g protein; 2 g fiber; 810 mg sodium.