When you make sushi at home, do you steal and eat a sheet of plain nori for every roll that you complete? Do you wish that at restaurants they'd serve little stacks of seaweed to nibble on? I do, which is why I was drawn to Seasnax, a line of roasted seaweed snacks made with olive oil.
There are currently four flavors—Classic Olive, Toasty Onion, Spicy Chipotle Grab, and Wasabi!. Each single serving pack comes with stack of nori (just to be clear, nori is the edible seaweed species of the red algae genus Porphyra, the kind that is rolled around sushi, not the kind that's made into seaweed salad). I gave them all a try.
When I first opened this package, little droplets of olive oil came leaking out onto my hands, making me worried that the oil wouldn't adhere to the sheets of seaweed or that there would simply be too much and it would overpower the snack. Luckily, the sheets of seaweed weren't actually greasy at all. In fact, in all aspects the addition of the olive oil is mild—these taste more of straight toasted seaweed than anything else. That's fine by me, as seaweed has a kind of funky, briny, oceanic flavor that I love. The olive oil that does come through is fruity and compliments the seaweed surprisingly well. But these don't taste like nibbling on straight nori—the salt and the crunch of the sheets definitely makes it feel like a snack.
My only issue? The thin sheets are a little hard to eat, being a hybrid of crispy and bendy that makes it hard to fit one comfortably in your mouth. Plus, I like to amp up the flavor by eating more than one sheet at once. This results in a half-falling-out-my-mouth, mega-chomping situation, and I will probably only be eating these in the privacy of my own home. Still, pretty delicious for only 16 calories.
Ingredients: seaweed, olive oil, sea salt Calories: 16 calories/6 grams
I had high hopes for this flavor, but the onion (which is applied as a powder stuck onto the sheets) doesn't come through very strongly. What added flavor there is reminded me too much of onion-flavored chips and didn't mesh with the brininess of the seaweed.
Ingredients: seaweed, olive oil, onion, sea salt Calories: 14 calories/6 grams
This flavor, as you could probably guess, was great. Wasabi and seaweed are a natural pairing, and I really appreciated how it wasn't dialed back. The wasabi flavor was spicy, not muted, so be warned if you like your snacks mild.
Ingredients: seaweed, olive oil, natural wasabi flavor, sea salt Calories: 16 calories/6 grams
This flavor is also nice and full, leaving a definite trace of spice in your mouth (especially when you eat basically the whole stack at once.) Up against the wasabi, this was more simply spicy than spicy and flavorful, but in a world where spicy snacks so often disappoint, I'm happy with the results.
Ingredients: seaweed, olive oil, organic ground chipotle, sea salt Calories: 16 calories/6 grams
Seaweed snacks are finally becoming popular in the US (Annie Chun's and Sea's Gift are two other brands you might see around), having long enjoyed popularity in Asia. I say, wee! And it's about time.
The SeaSnax website touts all the health benefits of seaweed, and there's no denying that you get minerals and vitamins at a low calorie cost. And at least speaking for this brand, they're also just plain good. Salty, crunchy, sometimes spicy, they hit all the notes for good snacking.
Seasnaks are available at some health food stores and supermarkets, or available for purchase online.