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Seasonal Columns Cuisine Vegetarian

Nori is not for me – Maki Clack


noriI’ve been reading Maki Clack since CliqueClack Food came into existence. My sushi experience is limited to trying nigiri sushi once, and it was horrifying. Raw fish is just not my friend. Yet, Debbie had me very intrigued with all of these tasty-sounding vegetarian combinations. Plus, I had never given nori a shot.

Nori is so beautiful to look at, shiny and green. I figured, how could I not like it? So I bought some. I made sushi rice, tamago, and julienned some carrots and snow peas. Sounds delicious, right?

Then I opened the package of nori, took out a sheet, and smelled it. I realized I had a problem, in the form of an overwhelming fishy aroma. Somehow, even though I had read Debbie’s post about seaweed, in which she specifically states that nori has a fishy taste, I had conveniently forgotten all about that.

I broke off a piece and put it in my mouth. Yep… tastes like fish. And the thing is, I like fish. But if I’m going to eat a vegetable, even if it does come from the same place, I don’t want it to taste like fish. I want it to taste vegetable-y. Or “salty and nutty” which is how every other description of seaweed I’ve ever read says it tastes. Apparently, Debbie is the only one being honest here.

Still, I pressed on, since I had a whole package of the stuff, and rolled up the rice and the fillings in it, sliced it, dipped it in tamari, and took a bite. The tamari pretty much overpowered everything else, but there was still that pesky smell, and by that time, I had a headache from it.

Needless to say, I gave up after that. I took the remaining sushi rice, egg, and veggies, threw them on a plate, mixed it up with some sweet chili sauce, ate them, and that was delicious. After that, I googled “nori” and “fishy taste” to see if I could figure out what the hell was going on, and I came up with this:

As it turns out, in addition to the commercial fishing industry, bycatch is also a problem with the harvesting of seaweed, and they end up getting blended together when it’s being made, which gives it the fishy odor and flavor. Reading this was a completely “DUH,” palm-to-forehead moment for me. Like I said, I do like fish (cooked!), but for the most part, I’ve worked very hard to cut most meat out of my diet so I don’t really want it sneaking in without my knowing.

What I don’t get, is how the guy who wrote the blog post, who is vegan, never bothered to question this in two years of eating the stuff, when I’m not even completely vegetarian and my first taste had me searching for an explanation. I guess it’s just one more reason vegans are ridiculous.

So, chalk it up to experience, but now I have another weird food aversion to deal with. At least this one is easy to avoid.

Photo Credit: litsa’s kitchen/flickr

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