Everything You Need To Know About
Seagrapes (Green Caviar), also known as ocean grapes or green caviar, is a specialty food item found in Okinawa in Japan. These seaweeds are highly nutritious which is why they’re up high in the food priority list of many Okinawa residents when visiting a restaurant. Many people find its texture quite interesting as the seagrapes make a crunchy noise as soon as you put them in your mouth. Nevertheless, the probable life-extending powers and high-quality nutrition makes this seagrape a favorite of many. In this blog, we will talk about the preservation methods and a wide variety of seagrapes recipes that you can prepare at home and relish.
How Do You Eat Seagrapes (Green Caviar) And What Are The Nutrients Present In Them?
Ocean grapes are a part of every classic menu in Okinawa cuisines. All the restaurants in Okinawa serve green caviar seaweed in different recipes. Owing to the high concentration of minerals and vitamins in seagrapes, they are also known as the “longevity seaweeds”. Having these seaweeds can prove to be really beneficial for your body. Not just that, it can also make your meals more interesting with a lot of variety to choose from.
So, let us dig deeper into the world of green caviar seaweed and find out their nutritional value and the multiple ways in which you can consume them. Additionally, we will also have a look at how these seaweeds are cultivated and preserved for better results.
What Kind Of A Seaweed Is Seagrapes (Green Caviar)?
These seaweed seagrapes are not to be confused with the seagrapes that come from tropical trees, mind you. The two are completely different. The ocean grapes as the name suggests are found on ocean floors, rocks, coral rubbles, and tropical and subtropical zones. They resemble a cluster of tiny grapes tied together, and this is how they derive their name. They are also referred to as “sea alba”. The tiny grapes like bubbles are filled with liquid that ‘pop’ when you put them in your mouth. Their taste reminds you of the southern sea freshness and the saltiness of the ocean.
In Japan, this green caviar seaweed can be found in abundance in the sea of the Nansei Islands including Okinawa. This seaweed also resembles “Shallow” and can be found in Oceania and Southeast Asia outside Japan. The combination of seagrapes (green caviar seaweed) with soy sauce or with beer is considered amongst the favourites of many people who love this seaweed.
Seagrapes should not be stored in colder temperatures, such as inside a fridge, as it can adversely affect its delicate, raw and refreshing taste. The change in temperature can result in a change in taste of these delicacies. This is the reason the treatment methods and the preservation methods of these seagrapes are highly important. Due to the recent food boom in Okinawa, green caviar seaweed have now been put on an international radar and increasingly attracting more customers to this superfood. Interestingly, seagrapes may also be used for ornamental purposes sometimes.
Seagrapes are also very good for the skin. They are full of collagen that provides healing to your skin and gives it a glow. The fatty acids make your skin look radiant with very few wrinkles. Did you know, they are used in skin lotions and cosmetics to help your skin regenerate? Apart from the beauty aspect, let us look at the kind of nutrition that you can gain from these seagrapes.
What Are The Various Nutrients Found In Seagrapes?
Seagrapes belong to the top of a nutrition-rich hierarchy. Minerals are the most important nutrients that make up this superfood. Minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron are found in abundance in these seagrapes and are very beneficial for your health.
As we all know, calcium is a mineral which is critical in maintaining the formation of the bones. Calcium deficiency in our body can cause issues like arthritis, osteoporosis and other bone problems. Calcium is a chemical element which is also involved in the release of neurotransmitters. This means that excessive amounts of calcium or deficiencies thereof can lead to mental health issues like depression.
Magnesium plays a significant role in our metabolism. It also supports the role of calcium in our body by adjusting its level in our muscles. Thus, magnesium together with calcium should be present at the right levels in our body for effective functioning. In addition, green caviar seaweed is also known to have iodine present in it. These minerals called ‘iodine’ prevent thyroid diseases which can cause weight issues and fatigue, among other symptoms.
Seagrapes are considered as a treasure trove of dietary fiber. They contain nutrients that soothe the GI tract and prevent constipation. The dietary fiber contained in the green caviar seaweed helps to promote the bowel movements and keep the metabolism rate in check. In addition, green caviar seaweed also controls the sugar levels in your body and reduce the complications of diabetes by keeping a tab on the blood glucose level.
There is another probable benefit of consuming seagrapes – prevention of overeating. For instance, you go to a pub for some drinks, and if you eat green caviar seaweed as a snack first, the dietary fiber present in the seagrapes fills you with a feeling of fullness, and so you don’t tend to overeat.
What Is The Role Of Seagrapes In Beauty Industry?
Earlier, we spoke of how seagrapes make your skin more radiant. In this section, we will talk about the nutrient contained in the seagrape called Cowle Parasma Mosa Extract. This extract may be included in the ingredients of a cosmetic or a beauty lotion to make your skin look younger with very few wrinkles. The name of the seagrape is Cowle parasmosa, and Cowral Parasmosa extract is the ingredient which is extracted from it.
This special ingredient cures your skin of acne and spots and promotes healthy skin by getting rid of the waste and dead cells.
What Is The Pre-treatment Method Before Serving Or Eating Seagrapes?
We know by now, how nutritious seagrapes are. But in order to reap the maximum benefits of such nutrients, it is very important that you correctly preserve them. The first and foremost step to remember before you serve green caviar seaweed is that it needs to be washed. As you rinse them, the dirt from it gets removed, and the saltiness of the ocean also gets reduced. Having said that, make sure you don’t rinse the seagrapes for longer than one to two minutes. This is because if you leave it in the water for too long the taste of these delicate seaweeds gets impaired, and it is not that refreshing and beneficial anymore.
The texture of the green caviar seaweed can also suffer if you leave them in the water for too long. The whole purpose of washing the seagrapes should be to remove any dirt, lessen the saltiness a little and wait for the bubbles to get back to their buoyant size, ready to pop in your mouth and make that crunchy sound.
Caution is very important while treating these seagrapes. You must be careful to not let the tiny grapes deflate and lose the succulent texture. Seagrapes taste the best when they are served at a slightly colder temperature than the room temperature. But strictly do not store them in the fridge for that. Just use colder temperature water (ice water) to rinse them before serving.
Serve delicious green caviar seaweed with the perfect texture and taste and make your meals more interesting and something new to look forward to.
What are the different ways of eating sea grapes?
When you follow the pre-treatment method for seagrapes as explained above and preserve them the right way, you can be guaranteed the best results. There are myriad recipes when it comes to green caviar seaweed, and fortunately for you, we will list down some of our favorites.
The best way to try green caviar seaweed for the first time is just to have it raw as it is. When you do so, you will get the real salty flavour of the seagrapes as the tiny bubbles begin to pop in your mouth. Sea grapes go really well with beer too.
Later, you can try different recipes in which sea grapes is used, be it in salads, rice, as a garnish on sushi and sashimi or in omelettes, seafood items, and much more.
Sea grapes with soya sauce
Many of green caviar seaweed’s fans like to eat seagrapes with soya sauce. In Okinawa, they are often eaten either raw or with a mix of soya sauce, vinegar and mirin. In many restaurants, this is also considered as a side dish that you can enjoy.
It is highly recommended to try relishing seagrapes with a mix of other condiments such as ginger and wasabi. Seasonings like ponzu also go really well with this superfood.
The world of green caviar seaweed is deeper than one would think. By trying different flavors and experimenting with different combinations, you can decide how you like it best.
Seagrapes in Cucumber Salad
Seagrapes can make your salad so much more interesting once you realise its potential. It can be used in various salad recipes, but among these, the cucumber salad is the easiest and quickest.
Cucumbers are fresh and juicy, and hence they prove to be a very good companion for sea grapes. Cucumber salads with green caviar seaweed on top can become your perfect salad recipe for the summers. Toss the salad in some vinegar to make it more tangy and exciting for your taste buds. To get started, all you have to do is chop the cucumbers first and then place the sea grapes like a garnish on top.
Then take another bowl and mix white sauce and sugar. Taste the mixture depending on how salty or sweet you want it to be and then add vinegar to it. It is recommended that people who suffer from acidity should add more vinegar in their salad to relieve acid reflux symptoms. Now, mix the cucumber and seagrapes in the bowl and apply mixed seasoning to it and you are good to go. Enjoy your simple yet delicious salad.
You can add ginger to your salad to make it more healthy and refreshing. Cucumber sea grapes salad also works as a good appetizer before a meal.
Seagrapes in Tofu Salad
In Okinawa, tofu salad with green caviar seaweed as an ingredient is considered as a classic dish on the menu of almost every restaurant.
For the perfect tofu salad, remember to rinse the seagrapes in ice water before including them in the salad. This will ensure a nice texture and the correct salinity needed to enjoy the seaweed. Make sure the dressing of your salad is balanced after taking into account the salty flavor of the green caviar seaweed so as not to end up with too much salt in your salad. Now, cut the tofu to a suitable size and drain the water.
Place the tofu in your salad bowl. Put seagrapes on top of it like a garnish. Add your dressing on top of the seagrapes. For the dressing, you are literally spoilt for choice. Popular ones in Japanese restaurants include soya sauce, a combination of olive oil and vinegar, sesame, yuzu, and more.
To make your tofu salad more interesting and colourful, you can add lettuce to it. Or grate some dried radish on top of the salad and make it more fibrous. The more nutrition-packed your salad, the better it will be for your body.
Sea grapes on rice
Another interesting and delicious recipe can be having seagrapes with rice, especially donburi rice or Poke Bowl with green caviar seaweed as the garnishing on top. Or seagrapes with molasses.
You could also grate yam.
Wash the sea grapes and let them drain. After some time, put the drained green caviar seaweed in a bowl and mix them with soba noodles. If you want it to be more protein-rich, you can add a fried egg on top and make it yummier and more filling at the same time.
One of the top-selling recipes in Japanese restaurants is the soba noodles served with seagrapes. These noodles are made from buckwheat flour and are a special dish found in Japan. Add a zing to the routine noodle dish by adding sea grapes to it as a topping.
Sea grapes in Tuna Pickled Rice
Tuna bowls are again a very popular rice dish in the Japanese culture. Seagrapes go really well with this recipe. The contrast of flavours is accentuated the maximum in this dish. The soft texture of the tuna on the one hand and the crunchy texture of green caviar seaweed on the other give this recipe the perfect flavour. Try this recipe for yourself and your taste buds will thank you for it.
For this recipe, to get started, first choose a fresh tuna for yourself. Cut the tuna into pieces and marinate it in soya sauce and mirin for a while. 30 minutes to 1 hour is the recommended duration. After that, place the green caviar seaweed on top of the tuna pieces and then wasabi. This will give you an excellent burst of flavours.
You can also grate the seagrapes on top or sprinkle some sesame paste to make it more delicious.
Seagrapes mixed with natto make for another lip-smacking recipe. Not just that, this dish looks very colorful and tempting with different flavors.
Natto has a sweet taste like strawberry. When you combine it with the salty and succulent texture and taste of the seagrapes, it is like an explosion of flavors in your mouth, enough to put you in a food coma.
For the seasoning of this dish, remember not to use any ingredient that could make your dish saltier. Eggs and natto don’t gel well. So you can avoid that. Putting some soya sauce on top is a good idea as the flavor of sea grapes gets accentuated by it.
We recommend that for this dish, don’t use natto sauce, but use fresh ingredients – ponzu, yuzu ponzu and more to make the dip. It will give a fresh flavour to your recipe and you would be able to enjoy it more.
Seagrapes and seafood with yuzu?
Seafood such as shellfish, scallops, white fish, octopus, squid and more can do wonders for your health when mixed with seagrapes and yuzu.
Whichever seafood you choose to go with, make sure you cut it nicely in bite-sized portions. Flavour it nicely by squeezing the yuzu juice in soya sauce. You can even go in for the readymade yuzu paste if you can’t find the fresh yuzu ingredient.
If you opt for the fresh yuzu, you can even decide to put the peel in your seafood dish to add more salty and tangy flavour to it, as per your taste.
Seagrapes ice cream
We bet you didn’t see this one coming, did you? Seagrapes served on top of vanilla ice creams are a common dessert dish in Japan, especially Okinawan restaurants.
Vanilla can be quite plain and boring for some people and it usually gets served with some chocolate syrup on top or more. It’s the same with this sea grapes recipe, to make the ordinary ice cream more special.
You can make your own vanilla ice cream at home using the same ingredients such as milk, vanilla essence, meringue, egg yolk, etc. Or if you feel lazy, just get a vanilla ice cream pack from the market. Shred some seagrapes and treat them in cool water as discussed earlier. Sprinkle them all over the ice cream and let it sit in the freezer for some time. That’s it. Enjoy your very own seagrapes ice cream and when you eat it, you can also add fresh green caviar seaweed on top for some extra crunch.
Ocean grape pickles can be an interesting snack that you can enjoy. It has a delightful mix of flavours and can be served along with tea too.
Ocean grape pickles can also be the perfect side dish to seafood dishes like salmon, umeboshi, or kombu. Cut the seagrapes to about 2 to 3 centimetres after treating them with ice water. Take a bowl of cooked rice, sprinkle it with some dried radish. Now pour the tea on top of the main dish. If you want to try green tea, you can.
Put kombu and then the seagrapes on top of it. Mix all the ingredients in the bowl and enjoy your meal.
Is It Safe To Consume Seaweed? Are There Any Potential Risks?
Seagrapes are a great source of iodine. It is well known that iodine is an important mineral for thyroid functions. If you are susceptible to thyroid issues, it is recommended that you do not consume higher doses of iodine in your food.
Generally consuming seaweed on an occasional basis, say, twice or thrice a week are within limits, provided you are not suffering from any thyroid diseases. Using seaweeds as a condiment can also put a control on the amount you intake. A serving of seaweed generally contains 20 to 50 mg of iodine.
It is always wiser to balance green caviar seaweed consumption by mixing it up in various rice dishes, noodles, salads, and soups. This will balance things for you and also make your dish more nutritious and tasty.
How To Pick Your Seagrapes?
So far, we have established the fact that seagrapes go well in a wide range of dishes, some of which we learnt how to make easily at home. But how do you decide which seagrapes go well with which particular recipe so as to accentuate its taste to the maximum?
The salt content and the texture of the right seagrapes can make or break your dish. It is very important that while buying the seagrapes, you check its color and the lustre. Seagrapes come in various colors from olive green to bright green and even a slightly bluish shade. The texture and salinity may vary at times, so always make sure they are tender and juicy.
It is recommended that while picking sea grapes for your dish, don’t blindly go in for low prices. Good quality sea grapes can be a little expensive, but they are hand-picked and manually cleaned for any unnecessary stems and sea wastage. This means you can straight away use them in your salads after treating them with water.
Enjoy firm and juicy green caviar seaweed as it is or with any of the recipes that we have listed above. You are free to experiment with other dishes at your home and surprise yourself with your cooking skills.
How Critical Is Preservation of Seagrapes?
If everyone in your family loves seagrapes, it is obvious that you would want to buy them in large quantities. But how do you save these sea grapes and for how long can they be preserved? Let’s find out.
Seagrapes can be stored for up to 12 months!! Isn’t that amazing? This allows you to take out as much as you need to use and store the rest for later use. You can keep them in the fridge inside a ziplock bag. Please be extremely careful that you are not to let the seagrapes freeze as that would totally spoil the taste as well as the texture of this nutrition-packed delicacy.
The green caviar seaweed is “alive” but if you freeze them in your freezer or fridge, they die, and it will no longer be possible to preserve the texture and appearance for long. Seagrapes should be kept away from the heat as well. Ideally, they should be stored in temperatures ranging from 15 to 18 degrees. Anything lower than 10 degrees is not suitable for these seaweeds. In summers, you can store them in a box of foamed polystyrene.
So, we hope you will try out some of the recipes listed in the article and discover some of your own unique recipes. It is beneficial to include seagrapes (green caviar seaweed) in your diet as not only will it improve your skin, it will also provide other medical benefits like relieving constipation, and strengthening your muscles and bones.
Remember the ice water treatment tips we shared for best results and the preservation techniques so you can retain them for a longer period and have them when you please.