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Seaweed

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#61 helenjp

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Posted 05 May 2004 - 07:18 AM

Interesting!

My husband comes from Hokkaido, and although he's extremely stingy about spending more than necessary on food, he wouldn't consider buying dried wakame, and is quite the connoisseur on different types of salted wakame.

A friend brought me back some ash-dried wakame from her home-town. It was nice, but it was quite a chore washing the ash off every time I wanted to use some.

#62 Aix

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Posted 05 May 2004 - 08:52 AM

Just curious: how do you cut wakame for salad? In julienne or ribbons? Most seaweed salads I see in restaurants are shredded rather thin but with wakame it's a bit too slimy to get a true fine cut...

#63 helenjp

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Posted 05 May 2004 - 09:10 AM

Wakame does vary a little bit -- the better grades expand to quite wide fronds with a certain thickness to them, while the cheap ones are very thin and tatty.

Normally you soak the fronds, then cut or tear off the fine whiteish "stem" that runs along one side of each frond. Then fold the fronds up and slice finely. If you do this before they have fully expanded, and then toss the shredded wakame back into the water to finish soaking, it is easier to handle than waiting until the wakame is fully reconstituted.

#64 torakris

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Posted 05 May 2004 - 03:59 PM

with the cheaper wakame it can be difficult to shred so I just leave it in bite size pieces, like the size you see floating in miso soup.

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#65 Hiroyuki

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Posted 04 June 2004 - 05:32 AM

This is the wakame I usually buy at the local store. This bag, which contains 100-g dried wakame, costs only 198 yen. Quite reasonable. That's why I like it. The bag says that the wakame will increase 15-fold. How about that!

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#66 giantbee

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Posted 04 June 2004 - 11:26 AM

I tried making wakame salad recently using the refrigerated salted type, and followed the recipe directions to cook it briefly and cool it before adding the seasonings. I found the result a bit too soft and slimy. Is it customary to boil wakame prior to making a salad with it? I've never had it before so perhaps it had the appropriate texture after all. :hmmm:
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#67 torakris

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Posted 04 June 2004 - 03:18 PM

I tried making wakame salad recently using the refrigerated salted type, and followed the recipe directions to cook it briefly and cool it before adding the seasonings. I found the result a bit too soft and slimy. Is it customary to boil wakame prior to making a salad with it? I've never had it before so perhaps it had the appropriate texture after all. :hmmm:
Anne

There is no need to boil salted wakame. You can washi it and place it in a strainer and pour boiling water over it and washi it again or you could wash it and place it in a bowl of water for 5 to 10 minutes and then wash until the saltiness is either gone or to your taste.

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#68 Cephalopunk

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Posted 18 June 2004 - 01:41 PM

Last night, I had a nice piece of broiled mackerel (saba, ne?) with a cold hijiki salad; it reminded me of how much I enjoy hijiki. This particular salad was sprinkled with sesame seeds and had another taste similar to tahini - possibly black sesame paste? I found organic bulk, dried hijiki with other seaweeds (Kombu, Dulse) for $25 per pound. Admittedly, the store was in Manhattan, but this price discourages me from just fooling around. Any information that you have on preparing hijiki would be extremely helpful.

Sidenote: My girlfriend is a vegan; hijiki may be a good way to work in B12 and Iron.

#69 Cephalopunk

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Posted 18 June 2004 - 01:43 PM

Uggh, why do I feel I can't win sometimes?

#70 torakris

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Posted 18 June 2004 - 03:13 PM

Uggh, why do I feel I can't win sometimes?

wow, that's scary! :shock:
I love hijiki and actually eat it quite a bit....
I will post recipes anyway in just a bit. :biggrin:

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#71 Hiroyuki

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Posted 20 June 2004 - 11:58 PM

What I found is this PDF file:
http://support.sprin...1127/envi_4.pdf
(Japanese only)

An excerpt, together with a translation (by me):
天然海産物であるひじきには100g 当たり約 20mg ものヒ素が含まれている。ひじき中のヒ素はヒ素糖と呼ばれる無毒の化合物を形成して存在しているから食べても問題ない。
Hijiki, natural seafood, contains as much as 20-mg arsenic per 100g. The arsenic in hijiki exists in the form of a harmless compound called arsenic sugar* and, therefore, eating it does not present any problems.

* Literal translation; I don't know the technical term for it in English.

#72 johnnyd

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Posted 21 June 2004 - 03:09 AM

FYI:
The Canadian link was last modified over two years ago.

I respect the Canadian findings but since I just bought a bag of it I guess I'll limit consumption but not elliminate it altogether, it's too delicious. Looking forward to those recipes. I usually add red pepper, sliced in my mandoline, sesame oil w/mirin and rice vinegar, but I'm eager for variations.
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#73 Hiroyuki

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Posted 21 June 2004 - 06:46 PM

I made an inquiry to that agency about the toxicity of hijiki, and they have just sent me the following reply:

The advice issued in the information bulletin posted at
http://www.inspectio...0011029be.shtml
remains in effect as no reduction in inorganic arsenic levels in hijiki seaweed has been reported.

Thank you for using the CFIA web site.

EDIT:
And another just now:

The advice issued in the information bulletin posted at
http://www.inspectio...0011029be.shtml and later published as a fact sheet at
http://www.inspectio.../arsenice.shtml
remains in effect as no reduction in inorganic arsenic levels in hijiki seaweed has been reported.

Thank you for using the CFIA web site.

Edited by Hiroyuki, 21 June 2004 - 06:48 PM.


#74 smallworld

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Posted 21 June 2004 - 10:12 PM

I asked my Dad (AKA Mr. Science Man) about this and here is what he had to say:


About arsenic and hijiki- it's been fairly well studied, mainly by
researchers in Japan (Kyoto Univ among others) but as far as I can see,
only Canada's CFIA has issued a warning. None of the documents I could
find on the Websites for various chemistry and food journals provided
actual data which would allow one to compare the levels of different forms
of arsenic in Hijiki to those in other foods known to contain As (like
cashews, Brazils and othet nuts, as well as most shellfish), but the
cosistent finding is that hijiki has higher levels of inorganic As- as
you pointed out in your email.

Inorganic As is more toxic than organic forms.  Given that hijiki has
relatively high levels, I think it's prudent to avoid eating it, at
least until we can understand it- and the real risks- better.  Arsenic is
an odd mineral- there's increasing evidence that a tiny amount may be
essential to good health, but just a little bit more might be quite
harmful. Selenium is also like this. The form of As found in shellfish and
finfish is arsenic-betaine, which is very rapidly eliminated.

Inorganic arsenic can linger a little longer, and aside from
accumulating in hair and nails, it also can accumulate in the liver.  It does not
go into body fat, but like mercury, it seems to bind to protein matter
(muscles, skin, hair, nails).  Hijiki is a plant that appears to have
the ability to naturally accumulate As in its stems and leaves, and it's
mostly present there in the inorganic form.  The water the hijiki grows
in is not necessarily contaminated; it's more a case of a plant that
selectively absorbs more As thasn other plants.  These are called
bio-accumulators, and there are plants that accumulate nickel, zinc, selenium,
etc. 

Once it has been ingested, it will slowly be excreted
and the liver will move it to the skin, hair, etc, but if too much
arsenic is ingested in a short time, the liver will accumulate the excess,
but over time will continue to get rid of it.  Unless you had a massive
exposure, your body will get rid of it over time.

As to why no one has issued a warning, all I can tell you is that CFIA
is a young, quite assertive agency, and it tends to be more proactive
than most government agencies.  They're not always right, though, and
some people consider them to be too quick to react.  I don't personally
agree- they probably felt obliged by ethics to let people know about
this, but were cautious enough to not start a shitstorm by banning hijiki. 
As for other governments, I think the Japanese and US gov'ts have known
about this for some time ( the work done by people at Osaka Prefecture
Univ, Kyoto U, Chiba Institue of Chemistry etc was done in 2000-2001)
so they are either cautious, callous, or have other things on their
minds.

Bottom line- err on the side of caution and don't eat it until you know
more about it.


I just sent off another email asking about this mysterious 'arsenic sugar' mentioned in Hiroyuki's link. Have no idea what compound this refers to, but from what I've read on other Japanese sites I'm wondering if it's a laymen's term for arseno-betaine or arseno-cholide, the two relatively harmless types or organic arsenic. But that would mean that the Japanese sites are mistaking these compounds for more toxic inorganic arsenic- a huge disservice to readers!

Anyway, hijiki is off the menu for now, but I hope to get to the bottom of this.
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#75 torakris

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Posted 22 June 2004 - 03:33 PM

This is very interesting about hijiki, I never had any idea.
But for anyone like me who would prefert o go out happy and eating the foods they like :biggrin: here are some recipes:

scrambled eggs (or omelet) with hijiki:
http://recipes.egull...ipes/r1082.html

simmered hijiki with carrrots and aburage:
http://recipes.egull...ipes/r1081.html

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#76 smallworld

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Posted 23 June 2004 - 12:36 AM

About arsenic sugar:
The right technical term is probably arseno sugar (although I am not 100% sure).

Thank you Hiroyuki, I was able to find a wealth of information about arsenosugars, which I've never heard of before.

It seems that hijiki contains a few different arsenic compounds- inorganic arsenic and arsenosugars. There is no question that inorganic arsenic is highly toxic, but there are two things that no one seems to agree on:

First, does hijiki even contain inorganic arsenic? Most of the English-language sources confirm that it does, but I couldn't find any Japanese sites that even mentioned inorganic arsenic (this could be more to do with my poor reading skills though).

And second, about arsenosugars. Most sources, in English or Japanese, say arsenosugars abound in hijiki, but strangely the CFIA warning doesn't even mention them.
More to the point, are arsenosugars really harmless? Again, the English and Japanese sources differed here, with Japanese research apparently proving that arsenosugars pass through the body without causing any harm. English-language sources, however, mention research that shows that arsenosugars are metabolized in the body into a compound called dimethylarsinic acid (DMAA) as well as other forms of arsenic. Not much is known about DMAA, but it certainly can't be considered harmless.
This site, http://www.clinchem....etters/44/3/539 , hs this to say:

There is little information on the toxicity of arsenosugars. Toxicological effects of the unidentified arsenic species due to metabolism of arsenosugars are not known. However, the increases in DMAA concentration due to arsenosugar metabolism should not be ignored. Although the acute toxicity of DMAA (LD50 = 700-2600 mg/kg) is much less than that of the inorganic arsenite (LD50 = 10-20 mg/kg), the genotoxic effects of these arsenic species are not well understood and may not follow the same order. Several studies suggest that DMAA may be more harmful than the inorganic arsenic species.




Why is there such a big difference between the Japanese research and the western research? Are the laws of physics different here in Japan? Do these scientists not read eachothers' findings?

In short, this claim of hijiki's arsenosugars being harmless smacks of sugar-coating. Sites like this http://www.iseko.com...ge/situmon.html , where hijiki products are on sale, assure us that hijiki's arsenic is safe.
A little too sweet for me, thanks.
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#77 Hiroyuki

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Posted 23 June 2004 - 03:30 AM

Thank you, smallworld, for your very informative post. But even after all this discussion, I can't stop eating hijiki. Coincidentally, I made a hijiki dish for supper yesterday.
Here is a photo of it. I usually add aburage (aburage is short for aburaage), but I used satsumaage (kind of fish sausage) this time. I usually add uchimame (beaten soybeans?) too. I wonder uchimame are available in the United States and other countries.
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#78 growpower

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Posted 04 July 2004 - 11:00 PM

I've recently run into two types of seaweed I have never seen before and was hoping you guys could give me some more information about them.


I had seaweed number one while staying at an osen in Himi, Toyama. It was served in a slightly citrus flavored broth with vegetables and seafood. The seaweed itself was olive green, and shaped like tiny branches. The part that really perked my interest was the fact that it was encased in a gelatin like substance. At first I thought the chef had actually dipped each piece of seaweed individually in gelatin, but my dinner table neighbor explained that it came naturally like that. Unfortuantely I forgot to ask her what it's name is.

Seaweed number two I saw in grocery stores. It was labelled ととろ (totoro if I am remembering correctly). It's a varigated light green (almost stripe like) sheet. Can anyone tell me more about how to prepare it and what kind of dishes it's used it? Google searches turned up to many references to the movie my neighbor totoro for me to go through. :laugh:

-thanks

#79 Hiroyuki

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Posted 05 July 2004 - 05:21 AM

Are they mozuku and tororo konbu?

Mozuku:
http://www.okimozuku.com/

Tororo konbu:
http://www.rakuten.c.../480101/709299/

You can put tororo konbu in soup, wrap it around a rice ball, for example.

#80 growpower

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Posted 05 July 2004 - 10:57 PM

Okay, yeah it was tororo, not totoro. :hmmm: my bad. After reading the posts though, they've perked my interest. I am going out to buy some tonite.

I am not sure on the mozuku though, it was hard to tell from the pictures. I am going to try to go to a grocery store and ask if they have any.
Is it available at most supermarkets?

Edited by growpower, 05 July 2004 - 10:58 PM.


#81 Hiroyuki

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Posted 06 July 2004 - 12:56 AM

I guess so since it is usually available even at local supermarkets in my small town.

#82 torakris

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Posted 23 August 2004 - 03:52 PM

I made okahijiki last night with the shira-ae "sauce" described above. I also added some myouga (ginger buds) for a little herbal note.

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#83 Hiroyuki

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Posted 10 November 2004 - 03:18 PM

These are the simple sauces that I sometimes make to eat nori with rice.
Left: I mix equal amounts of soy sauce and mirin-like seasoning and heat it in the microwave for 20 seconds. This results in a simple yet savory sauce.
I often pour this sauce over the rice rather than dipping pieces of nori in the sauce one at a time.
Right: I just mix some salt with some sesame oil. I spread this sauce on a piece of nori with a spoon to mimic Korean nori.
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What are your favorite ways of eating nori?

#84 Hiroyuki

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Posted 10 November 2004 - 04:27 PM

Right:  I just mix some salt with some sesame oil.  I spread this sauce on a piece of nori with a spoon to mimic Korean nori.

unless the nori itself is significantly different, that isnt mimicing korean nori, it is korean style nori. :raz:

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I understand that Korean nori is iwa nori 岩海苔 (don't know the English word for it). How do you eat Korean nori? Like these?
http://www.hct.zaq.n...ri/tabekata.htm

#85 melonpan

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Posted 10 November 2004 - 05:02 PM

I understand that Korean nori is iwa nori 岩海苔 (don't know the English word for it).  How do you eat Korean nori?  Like these?

i dont what iwa nori is. i guess this is a type of seaweed?

my statement was based on the fact that you used salt and sesame seed oil. as i understand it, japanese people dont usually season seaweed in this manner.

(note: following is slightly off topic...)

i am looking into a different kind of seaweed, called doljaban parae (돌자반파래), or parae for short, which is something similar to the everyday kim that you see, but it is a little thicker and when it is processed for selling, it is sold in very large packets consisting of a single large chunk of the parae. one single piece is typically 4 cm x 35 cm x 50 cm.

i have not had the time to research what kind of seaweed this (anything interesting seems to be in difficult-for-me korean.) is but back in october i did take some photos of parae that i bought. i have not processed the raw photos and will not burden people with them but here are links: <a href="http://www.rawbw.com...mp/p.jpg">photo 1</a>, an image of a typical package and <a href="http://www.rawbw.com...p/p2.jpg">photo 2</a>, a close up of a small chunk pulled off. you cannot see it in the photo, but that chunk was quite tall, maybe a couple centimeters. definitely not a flat.

the reason i bring up parae is because it seems like it might be regular kim, but not pressed flat into sheets. but i dont know for sure. i selfishly wish there were more resources in english. in the meantime i am working on improving my korean.
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#86 torakris

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Posted 22 December 2004 - 04:15 PM

I made a wonderful salad with hijiki last night, I was planning on taking a picture but forgot....

I rehydrated some hijiki and mixed it with one julienned cucumber, then I made a dressing of equal parts canola oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce and about a quarter of an onion very finely minced (I soaked this in cold water for a bit before adding). I mixed everything together and added a handlful of toasted sliced almonds.
I adapted it a bit from a recipe I had in a Japanese cookbook and it really turned out great, the combination of hijiki and almonds was a surprise but they work really well together and I will be making it again!

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#87 merrybaker

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Posted 26 January 2005 - 12:48 PM

My wife and I sometimes make a simple salad with dry wakame and enoki mushrooms.
Dressing that we use with this salad:
Soy sauce : Vinegar : Sesame seed oil = 1 : 1 : 0.5

Hiroyuki, I tried that for lunch today and it was a very enjoyable combination of ingredients.

#88 anzu

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Posted 30 May 2005 - 09:55 AM

I recently read a newspaper article reviewing a new book (in German only) featuring seaweed recipes. In the review, they stated that this book gave no recipes for either konbu or hijiki. The reason? These two allegedly are dangerous for your health.

According to the article, konbu and hijiki are the two seaweeds that contain maximum iodine. Because they are natural products growing in varying places under varying conditions, the amount of iodine they contain will vary greatly and can be anywhere between negligeable and enough to (allegedly) send your thyroid into shock.

They went on to state that eating konbu and hijiki is okay for Japanese as it has been eaten in Japan for generations, and peoples' bodies are used to it.

So then I went and had a quick look in local Asian grocery stores and health food stores. Sure enough, the range of other seaweeds is much larger, while the selection of konbu and hijiki is small. The health food stores actually have health warnings near the konbu saying not to consume too much.

Now, a search (admittedly quite a brief search) on Google suggested that too much is bad if you already have thyroid problems, but I couldn't find anything saying that it's actually going to CAUSE new problems.

And this deal about it being okay for Japanese (presuming that it truly is not okay to eat) because it's been eaten for generations sounds rather iffy to me. How much konbu or hijiki would poor peasants have been eating in pre-Meiji Japan if they were living inland? Konbu was, as I understand it, harvested in the north at considerable expense, and was costly enough that it was a major export article to China (where it was used by people as a salt substitute because salt was extremely highly taxed). So how many people were able to afford it and were eating it on a regular basis?


Your thoughts please.

#89 JasonTrue

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Posted 30 May 2005 - 10:29 AM

If their explanation is that people's bodies are used to high levels of iodine, I don't buy it. If they were explaining that some bacteria or fungus associated with konbu or hijiki was something that people's bodies in Japan were "used to", that might be more believable, but I'd still be skeptical. Mineral tolerances don't really dramatically vary between ethnic groups. This is just another kind of exoticization of the East, another example of orientalism.

I remember in Germany that people were absolutely convinced that Teflon pans were dangerous because they had always heard they were associated with Alzheimer's disease. Of course, this had already been debunked for years by the time I was there, as there was more aluminum exposure from the average deoderant than from even the most seriously scratched aluminum pan, but the rumor persisted that the Teflon itself was dangerous.

In the US the FDA over-reacted to occasional reports of people choking on konnyaku-based jellies and forced a recall. No similar recall was placed on Jello jigglers or Triscuits or any other food that it's possible to choke on when being careless. Sometimes people react more harshly to limited data on an unfamiliar product than they would to, for example, long-established, repeatedly verified data that excessive saturated fat consumption can be detrimental to health. You don't see meat or Crisco being pulled off the shelves.

People try to see harm or help in absolutely every little ingredient.

When I'm doing demonstrations of a candy or a tea product in a supermarket, it never fails that someone will ask me "is there some health benefit to eating/drinking this?" Or I see someone buy some product that has a huge amount of non-obvious sugar, and they say they can't eat the candy I import because it would have too much sugar (which turns out to be about 1.2 grams per serving, about 10% of the sugar in a glass of milk). I would love to explain that the health benefit or harm of a particular food is not the reason to decide to eat it or not.

In moderation, there's nothing wrong with kelp or hijiki. Both have minerals which are in fact quite beneficial in judicious quantities. In moderation, there's nothing wrong with butter or cheese or even sugar. Smoked fish from the North See contains carcinogens from the smoke, but no Northern German would give up their fish indulgences for that reason. I'm a vegetarian, but even I would say that for the most part meat or fish in moderation is perfectly healthy.

Europe is one place where people still eat food primarily focused on the pleasure of what they are eating and not based on the supposed medical effects of what they put into their bodies. The stuff that we use as substitutes for the things that we want to eat is rarely substantially healthier than what it substitutes for; this is a fetishization of ingredients that does more harm than good.

Japanese use konbu in nearly every dish in small quantities, because it's a component of nearly every soup stock. It provides natural glutamates that enhance the flavors of food. Hijiki is a common side dish. No one fills a 9" plate with konbu or hijiki and eats a big pile of it. This is not a matter of health; this is just the fact that doing so would be boring and inconsistent with Japanese plating customs. Japanese who are eating hijiki or konbu are not getting sick because of it, but this is not because of their bodies being used to it; Japanese consumption habits are simply different. If there is some health benefit from such a practice, so be it, but few people are obsessed with the health as much as wanting to have a nice meal made of good, simple things.

There aren't a large number of varieties of hijiki in Japan as I recall; just the length is the main differentiating factor. As for konbu, there are a few different varieties, but most of the distinction is based on the age, which affects the suitability of the konbu for soup stock, simply eating, or some combination of the two. The number of varieties has little to do with health considerations.

I think that food magazines, journalists and health books frequently reference studies of associations between foods and diseases in an irresponsible way. The people citing these studies are not scientists and are often unable to recognize that a bell curve may only be shifted in only slightly statistically significant ways before a researcher draws a conclusion. Lay sources then overemphasize these conclusions, leaving out any qualifiers like "may" or "possibly", and make people more poorly informed than they were when they knew nothing.

Edited by JasonTrue, 30 May 2005 - 03:28 PM.

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#90 SuzySushi

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Posted 30 May 2005 - 02:36 PM

Good, thoughtful response, Jason.

Here's a link to a page about iodine and seaweed from the Vegan Society. It recommends the maximum safe quantities of various forms of seaweed that can be consumed annually.
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