What does Nori Taste Like?

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If you’ve never tried seaweed before and are curious to know what nori tastes like, we’ll give you all the information you need.

Nori, or dried seaweed, is a staple in Japanese cuisine. It is a primary ingredient in sushi, used to make succulent rice balls. They also used it in several other applications. The dried seaweed taste is strong but not fishy. The umami flavor is not strange, as many would expect. In simple words, it has a mild oceanic taste and an overall salty and nutty flavor.

If you wish to learn more about its tastes, texture, and applications, this article will cover everything you need to know!

What does nori taste like?

Taste-wise, nori has an umami flavor, which gives it a unique balance of savory and sweet. The umami flavor comes from the inosinic acid, glutamic acid, and guanylic acid present in nori. Since there’s no other food that tastes similar to nori, you must try it to know what its flavors are.

On its own, nori has a milder flavor. But, most pre-packaged nori comes toasted and infused with flavors, such as soy sauce and seasonings, which give it a spicier and iodized taste.

Typically, nori has an intensely salty taste with a subtle hint of sweetness. It may have a strong-tasting seawater flavor or a milder taste, depending on its type, where it’s from, and how it has been handled.

As nori grows by the sea, on rocks, it has a rather strong, sea-like flavor. However, it doesn’t taste or have even the slightest fishy taste. The unique, salty-sweet taste makes it quite versatile; you can cook it up with rice to be served with crispy tofu or put together some delicious rice balls.

The versatility makes it a pantry staple in all kitchens. You can add it to vegan dishes to give them a briny and smoky seafood flavor.

You may find textural differences among nori. That is because several factors may impact seaweeds, such as water temperature, handling, and harvesting time. Nori that is harvested in Japan is less crispy but has an overall smooth texture. On the contrary, seaweed from New Zealand has a rough surface, darker color, and is crisper. The best kind of nori has a uniform texture, dark green color, and a briny, smoky flavor.

Although crisp, nori soaks up the sogginess present in rice and noodles; therefore, serve it fresh. Store it in a dry and cool place to retain its texture and flavor as moisture may turn nori chewy. 

Since there are so many varieties of nori, you can also expect to find varieties of tastes. You’ll find nori as a flat, pressed sheet in almost any Asian store near you. But it’s also available in various other forms, such as Kizami or flakes.

Kizami or shredded nori

Shredded nori is another popular version of nori, which is a type of toasted seaweed used for topping and garnishing in Japanese-style cooking. It is cut in a ribbon-like shape with a width ranging from 2 to 4 mm.

The taste of kizami nori is pretty much the same as that of sushi nori. It is rich in umami flavor and has a taste of the ocean. The subtle hint of sea flavor works well with almost every type of Asian food.

Texture-wise, high-quality kizami nori should be fresh and crisp.

Nori sheets

Nori is most commonly sold as flat, pressed sheets. These are typically 12-18 inches long and 16 inches wide, with a rough surface. The ridged texture side is the one that goes up.

The taste of sushi nori is neither strange nor does it contain any off-flavors. It has a subtle hint of the ocean with a unique salty-sweet taste that differs from any other seaweed.

It tastes crisp at first but immediately melts into softness in the mouth.

If you’re wondering how to choose the best nori sheet, all you need is to look for one that has a uniform size and a shiny surface. These paper-thin sheets are usually toasted, which gives them a “crisp” texture. Low-quality nori sheets may have a lighter color, holes, and uneven thickness.

Dried seaweed flakes

Aosa nori is milder in flavor and is sold as flakes or powder. The slightly bitter taste and translucent color set it apart from other types of nori.

Besides taste, nori is also quite appealing because of its dark green to jet black hue. That’s why you may have seen it as a topping, garnishing, and seasoning. It’s typically roasted, shredded, and tossed in seasoning, sesame, and vegetable flakes, which give it an extra kick of flavor.

Aosa nori is commonly used raw in salads, soups, and as toppings in ramen. It also adds a savory taste to snacks like chips and crackers.

Is Nori sweet or salty?

Nori’s taste is best described as umami; it has a pleasantly salty and savory flavor. Most people find the taste to be slightly briny, as it tastes like the ocean, but the unique twist is that it also has a hint of sweetness in it.

At first, you may find a savory flavor, but what follows is a mild sweetness that complements its salty taste well. The sweet marine flavor is quite appealing when added to tangy or soupy dishes. This flavor variety is one reason nori makes for an excellent snack, as well as a meal topping!


The taste of Nori is far from fishy. Several qualities affect its flavor; these include water temperature, mineral content, harvesting period, and handling techniques. Nonetheless, good quality nori has an umami flavor with a sweetness that melts in the mouth.

When mixed with spices and condiments, dried seaweed has a salty taste that works well with all kinds of food. You can eat it as a snack or use it as a topping for your ramen or soup. It tastes best when dipped in soy sauce and wasabi paste.

Besides tasting great, Nori is also an excellent source of vitamins and minerals.

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