What is Laver?
Laver is a type of seaweed that grows in the South and the West Sea of Korea. The world market has discovered laver as a health food thus expanding consumption of it from Asian countries into more than 60 countries. In Korea, this seaweed is called GIM.
Korea’s laver, Joseon laver, grows in thin soft leaves that are easily dried into sheets that may be referred to as “black paper.” Joseon laver is used to make seasoned laver, which makes up the largest portion of the export market. Laver is available pressed into sheets that can be either smooth or bumpy; these sheets are available in a variety of sizes. In addition to sheets, Laver leavers can be compressed and sold in bricks or kept in pieces that are also available flavored and sold as snack packs.
Korea’s Laver Production
Laver farming started in Korea in the early 17th century. Approximately 8 billion sheets of laver were produced annually in the early 2000s. Nowadays, approximately 12 billion sheets of laver are produced annually with the help of advanced technology in laver farming.
Traditional Ways to Eat Laver
Dried or Toasted Laver
When the raw laver is unseasoned and simply dried or roasted quickly over flame, it is often used for rice rolls, as part of side dish, and rolling sushi.
The traditional method of cooking laver is to season it with sesame oil, salt, and maybe some soy sauce, and then toast it. The resulting sheet of laver can be eaten in strips as a snack, with wine, or as a side dish. Another option is to grind the resulting sheet into a power so that it can be sprinkled over rice.
Whole sheets of fresh laver are cut into small pieces and fried in oil and seasoned with salt, sugar, and various sauces and spices depending on the desired flavor. This laver is perfect to sprinkle over rice dishes like bibimbop, boiled rice mixed with assorted vegetables, meat and sauce, and can also be eaten as a snack or with wine.
Sticky rice glue is applied to a piece of dried laver and allowed to dry. Once dry, the sheet of laver, now coated in sticky rice, is deep fried. This method of preparation makes a delightful snack, similar to American potato chips, and can also be served as a side dish.
Laver Nutritional Information
Laver contains many vitamins and minerals as well as being low-calorie, los-sodium, low-sugar, gluthen-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and part of a high-fiber diet. No cholesterol, artificial flavors, colorings, or preservatives are used in producing laver, making it a healthy addition to your diet no matter your eating restrictions. Laver contains 40% protein and all eight essential amino acids.
A perfect snack, seasoned laver has one-quarter of the calories and one-third of the sodium content of a hundred gram serving of potato chips.
Comparison of Nutritional Facts per 100g of laver
Dietary Fiber: Laver has 16 x more than cabbage
Beta-Carotene: Laver has 3 x more than carrots
Iron: Laver has 9 x more than pork
Calcium: Laver has 3 x more than milk
Mineral and Vitamin Benefits of Laver
Vitamin A and Beta Carotene
Beta Carotene is known as pro-vitamin A, and is converted by the body into retinols, which promote night vision adaption. Vitamin A promotes the growth of embryonic cells, and strong hair, nails, and skin.
Laver contains more than the necessary daily intake of Vitamin C, which promotes the body’s immune system, helps the body build scar tissue, and build new tissue. Vitamin C also helps prevent anemia and gingivitis.
If the body lacks Vitamin D, it is unable to absorb calcium, leading to a lack of calcium which has been shown to cause osteoporosis.
Iron is important to prevent iron deficiency anemia, which causes fatigue and shortness of breath since the blood is unable to carry enough oxygen through the blood stream.
Iodine has been found to reduce the risk of breast cancer. Iodine helps the body detoxify and remove metals and bromides from the body, while strengthening the immune system and preventing the growth of abnormal bacteria in the stomach. According to the World Health Organization, a lack of iodine in pregnant women is the leading cause of preventable brain damage in children. Americans lack iodine in their diet since their primary source of iodine is from iodized salt which is only used occasionally.
A version of this article by Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries and Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food TradeCorporation. Photo by TastyKFood