If you or your kids are obsessed with those packages of seaweed snacks, this is for you. Snacking on sheets of dried nori or gim, as I'm sure you know, doesn't really fill you up. With this simple homemade recipe, you can add some protein and even more nutrition. It's an easy and quick snack- four minutes in the oven and done!
Seaweed snacks gaining popularity
In East Asia, snacking on seaweed is nothing new.
According to gimMe brand, "kids and adults in Asian cultures have been eating their sea vegetables for centuries, enjoying its taste, texture, and many health benefits."
In South Korea and Japan, it's typical to find many different kinds of seaweed snacks at the store.
This "new" recipe was inspired by some packaged snacks I discovered at a convenience store in South Korea. I was there visiting my friend, Sun, and his family.
I'm sure Sun has been eating stuff like this since he was a kid.
I assume because of the huge popularity of sushi worldwide, the western world got its first taste of seaweed.
On top of that, Korean dramas on Netflix have also showcased Korean food to the rest of the world.
Based on my research I did when writing "Nori- the Essential Guide to Japanese Seaweed", I anticipate seaweed snacks will become even more popular in the Western world in the next few years.
The best organic seaweed brands
If you look on Amazon, you'll see these snacks have tens of thousands of five star reviews.
You can also find my list of the best seaweed chips below.
Seaweed snacks widely available
SeaSnax is sold in more than 6,000 stores from Los Angeles to Hong Kong including at Whole Foods.
Are seaweed snacks good for you?
Yes! Though I would add, it depends which ones.
The organic ones with only a few added natural ingredients, yes, I consider those to be a healthy choice.
Seaweed, even those paper-thin sheets are jam-packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Those are the compounds produced by plants which act as antioxidants.
Seaweed is actually one of the most nutrient-dense plants on the planet.
You can find seaweed munchies that are 100% vegan, organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, keto, and paleo-friendly.
If you have food allergies (seafood, crustaceans, etc.), thyroid problems, or take medication, please consult a medical professional before adding seaweed snacks to your diet.
Check food labels
Before giving the green light to go binge on these "healthy potato chips from the sea", there are some important reasons you shouldn't go overboard.
For a start, some seaweed snacks are coated with a long list of added ingredients: sugar, sodium, MSG, and inflammatory oils like vegetable or corn oil.
This is another good reason to make your own.
But if homemade seaweed snacks sounds like too much time and effort, I recommend looking at the food labels carefully.
Choose a seaweed flavored with pure olive oil or sesame oil and sea salt.
How much seaweed snacks is too much?
From my research, I would recommend eating no more than one snack-size package per day. This goes for kids as well.
Because of the high levels of iodine found naturally in seaweed, you may want to avoid eating seaweed as a snack every single day. I want to mention this because seaweed snacks can be "strangely addictive". Those words are even printed on every package of Seasnax- it's no lie!
There's also a risk of toxic, heavy metals and contamination being absorbed by seaweed that's grown in polluted ocean water. That's why it's important that you're choosing to buy organic or from a brand you trust.
If you're eating tons of seaweed every day after learning that it's a superfood, there's a risk that these toxic metals could build up in your body over time. It's called bioaccumulation- the same reason you don't want to eat sushi or poké every day.
In Japan, few people would binge eat packets of seaweed. Consuming seaweed in small portions is the norm.
Balance is at the center of the Japanese diet. That means eating a variety of foods, a rainbow of colors and all five tastes, as insurance that your body is getting all the nutrition it needs.
Korean Seaweed Snacks
This seaweed snacks that I discovered while visiting Korea are called boogak, or sometimes spelled bugak.
The full name of bugak that are made with seaweed is gim-bugak (김부각).
Gim (김) means seaweed and bugak (부각) is the glutinous rice flour paste that's added.
Traditionally, gim-bugak is deep-fried. Nowadays, you can find healthier options that are oven-baked.
The snacks I remember eating where two pieces of laver seaweed sandwiched together with slivers of almonds and sesame seeds on the inside. I had to try!
I remember choosing honey flavor. Perhaps the honey helps keep the seaweed sandwich from falling apart. The glutinous rice also holds the pieces of gim together.
What are seaweed chips or crisps?
If you're just eating a roasted seaweed snack, that's not necessarily the same thing as seaweed chips.
From what I've seen at stores and online, there are four main types of seaweed chips. These are a combination of Korean and Japanese-inspired snacks.
1 ) Toasted or baked until crisp
The first is the simple version, such as this homemade recipe from the New York Times.
Pretty much all you do is bake sheets of nori in the oven or toast in a fry pan to make them crisper.
Then add a light dusting of salt.
Other versions of toasted nori chips add their own unique flavors– this one from Australian Women's Weekly uses orange rind, black pepper, and chili flakes.
2) Nori sheet with added layer
The second type of nori crisps have an added layer of something. They're made by combining the sheets of nori with another layer to make a more substantial, thicker, crunchier chip.
The extra layer tend to be made with glutenous rice flour, rice cracker, wonton, almond slices, sesame seeds, or pumpkin seeds. Some have added flavoring as well, like wasabi.
3) Nori tempura
This variation of seaweed chips are made by coating sheets with batter and deep frying them.
In Japanese, it's call noriten (のり天).
I'm sure these taste good but this version of nori chips isn't exactly healthy.
The example below is my sister's favorite from this year's Expo West natural foods trade show in California.
Nora Seaweed Snacks partners with the Thailand-based snack company, Taokaenoi.
Fried seaweed snacks are now one of the most popular snacks in Thailand.
4) Nori sandwich
Some of seaweed chips are actually sandwiches with two sheets of nori with a filling stuck in the middle.
Similar fillings as the type above are used. It's usually a mix of more than one filling, for example: sesame and almond slices.
So far, I've only found one brand of seaweed tortilla chips. I'd love to try them just out of curiosity!
The company is called Seamore- they're based in the The Netherlands.
According to their website, their chips are made with 35% seaweed.
The Best Brands of Seaweed Chips
Here is a list of the most popular seaweed chips to are available outside of South Korea or Japan.
In the U.S. you can find seaweed chips at Costco, Trader Joe's, or Whole Foods.
If you don't have those stores in your neighborhood, I'll also introduce you to the seaweed crisps available on Amazon.
1) Annie Chun's Baked Seaweed Crisps (Organic)
It appears that this Annie Chun's product is currently unavailable on Amazon. I didn't see it pictured on Annie Chun's website so it may have been discontinued. They look like they'd be good and reasonably good for you.
2) bibigo Seaweed Crisps (Oven baked)
This is a popular Korean brand that I see in Tokyo as well. This product looks over-priced on Amazon. I would recommend having a look at your local Korean supermarket, if you have one nearby.
3) Chomperz Crunchy Seaweed Chips by Seasnax (My top pick!)
Judging by their marketing, it looks like this company is targeting kids. I'm happy to see fun- looking snacks with cartoons that are actually healthy! This company says they contribute 10% of their annual net profit to non-profit organizations.
Flavors: Chipotle, Wasabi, Sea Salt, Jalapeno, Lime, and Onion
I haven't tried this snack yet but I'm already a big fan of this healthy, Earth-conscious company!
4) Almond Sesame Seaweed Crisps by Seapoint Farms
These are seaweed with almond filling. Unfortunately, the second ingredient is maltose. I would guess it's the sugary syrup that holds the seaweed sandwich and fillings together.
- 1 sheet nori seaweed unseasoned
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
- 6 almonds
- 1 tsp olive oil small amount
- 1 -2 dashes sea salt fine
- Use ⅓ pre-cut sheets of nori or cut a full sheet of nori with clean kitchen scissors or sharp knife. (Use strips approximately 7 cm wide.)
- Carefully slice almonds into thin slivers with a sharp knife on a cutting board.
- Lightly coat the shiny side of nori with olive oil using a pastry brush.
- Lightly coat baking sheet or tray with remaining olive oil.
- Turn oil-coated nori upside down on a baking sheet.
- Rinse and dry pastry brush.
- Crack an egg and mix with a fork or chopsticks.
- Pour enough egg over sesame seeds in a small dish to coat all the seeds. (approximately 1 tsp)
- Use a small spoon to put egg-coated sesame seeds on top of sheets of nori.
- Repeat the same process with almond slivers but use as little egg as possible (lightly coat).
- Use pastry brush to spread out sesame seeds and almond slivers to cover nori sheets evenly.
- Sprinkle sea salt on top.
- Cover the nori sheets with a sheet of aluminum foil to prevent the almonds and seeds from burning.
- Preheat oven to 320 degrees F.
- Bake for four minutes or until the egg coating is completely cooked and almonds slivers are golden brown.
- Carefully remove pan from oven with an oven mitt or potholder.
- Use a spatula to lift sheets of nori off pan.
- Place on a clean and dry cutting board.
- Cut strips of nori in half with a sharp knife.
What is the healthiest seaweed snack?
Jin Jun, founded SeaSnax in 2011 after realizing that many of the roasted seaweed snacks on the market were filled with sodium, MSG, and corn oil. At the time, she said her three year-old was eating them like candy.
From my research, SeaSnax look like their products are made with the best quality, organic ingredients and olive oil.Chomperz crunchy seaweed chips also appear to be one of the healthiest choices for kids.
Jin Jun says, "My daughter sets the bar. If I wouldn't feed it to my daughter, I wouldn't feed it to a customer."
GimMe and Annie Chun's snacks are also made with organic seaweed from South Korea.
If you don't have much spare time, I would recommend grabbing one of these options.
Seaweed snacks recipe (homemade)
If you have the time, my next recommendation is to make your own.
It gives you total control over the ingredients– none of those added ingredients you don't want.
And you can't beat the taste when you eat these warm, straight out of the oven.
The unique seaweed snacks I discovered in Korea made with nuts and seeds inspired me to create this recipe.
I took that concept and made the healthiest seaweed snack that tastes good!
Do seaweed snacks taste good?
It depends. For most people, I think it's an acquired taste.
For kids who grew up eating this stuff like it was normal, they love it.
If you are like me and didn't grow up eating seaweed, it may take some time for you to acquire the taste.
Watching people try seaweed snacks for the first time, they describe it as "salty and yummy", "gross", "tastes like spicy paper", or "kind of tastes like ocean".
But if you're someone who's reading this, I can only imagine that you already love seaweed snacks or you will learn to love them soon.
After living in Japan for 20 years, I've pretty much acquired a taste for all the food here.
Do I think seaweed snacks taste good?
I wouldn't even ask that question. I just eat'em.
To learn even more about seaweed, check out "Nori- the Essential Guide to Japanese Seaweed".