Eating sushi is often a pleasure, but it can also be a nightmare, especially when you are dealing with chewy nori wrap that you don’t know how to fix.
Why does sushi nori get chewy? The chewiness that sets in with seaweed wraps can be due to several factors, including its default condition, moisture from the sushi, or exposure to air. It can also be about improper storage or incorrect handling, thus leading to the loss of the nori’s usual crispy nature.
When you know how to handle nori, eating sushi becomes much more enjoyable, while it can become less so when you don’t know what you are doing.
Why Sushi Nori Becomes Chewy
Depending on certain conditions, the seaweed wrap or nori that is usually used with sushi can become chewy for different reasons. Knowing what these reasons are is the key to either maintaining the crispiness of the nori or achieving it before eating the sushi.
Generally speaking, though, the factors that set in with regards to nori being chewy or crispy have to do with either the environment or its default state. Just take a look at the following usual suspects:
· Cold temperatures
The table below shows the different conditions related to nori and the reasons why chewiness could set in:
|Toasted Nori||Nori often comes toasted when packaged, thus making it crispy. It becomes chewy when improperly handle or stored.|
|Untoasted Nori||Untoasted nori is chewy right out of the package. It will usually be indicated on the plastic bag if this is the case. You will then need to toast it to achieve crispiness.|
|Wrapped Nori||Nori that is wrapped around sushi and left out becomes chewy.|
|Storage||Nori that is not sealed properly upon storage becomes chewy due to the moisture or cold air.|
|Air Exposure||Nori that is exposed to open air for a long time without protection becomes chewy.|
|Moisture Contact||When handling nori with wet hands or getting it wet with fluids, it becomes chewy overtime.|
Those factors above are your usual culprits when your nori becomes chewy. Fortunately, there are fixes that we can use to address them, starting with the subject of toasted nori. Basically, if the nori has already been toasted before it was packaged, all you need to do is to store it properly. However, once it becomes tacky, you can toast it again.
You can do this by very briefly and carefully exposing the nori to open flames on your stovetop, a food torch, or a salamander if you have one. If none of those is an option, you can throw it in a deck toaster for a minute or so. Just make sure to keep an eye on it. Whatever you do, though, never put the nori in a microwave.
If the problem is that the nori was original untoasted, you can just follow the toasting instructions above before using them to form your sushi. Once your sushi is made, make sure to eat it as fast as possible. The longer you let it sit, the chewier the nori will get.
Finally, just store the nori properly. Put it in an airtight container when not in use and make sure it stays dry. Never place it in the fridge without covering it first.
Why Sushi Nori Should Remain Crispy
When it comes to enjoying sushi, there is absolutely no other choice other than to make sure that your nori is crispy. This basically adds to the texture of the dish, which enhances the experience and enjoyment of eating sushi. This goes doubly true for when you don’t have crunchy ingredients in the role or on the block that you make.
Broadly speaking, when you take away sushi, you are basically left with soft rice and soft fish. In some cases, like with the California maki, you can lean on cucumber for that crisp. However, before you ever get there, it simply feels better for your mouth when you also have a crisp on the outer layer of the sushi.
The crispiness also enhances the flavor of the nori itself, allowing every bite to also give you a more aromatic experience when eating sushi through your sense of smell. This does not happen when the sushi becomes soggy or chewy.
Tacky sushi can basically ruin the experience of eating sushi because it becomes unpleasant in your mouth. It also distracts from everything else that the dish is about with regards to the ingredients or presentation. Once you take a bit, it will be all you are noticing and you will have a hard time appreciating the rest of what the sushi has to offer.
How Sushi Nori Should Be Stored
The general rule of thumb when storing sushi nori is that it has to be clean and dry. This means that your container must not have the moisture of any kind. It needs to be secure so that your nori doesn’t get wet. Most of all, it must be airtight so that the cold in your fridge or the air in your pantry will not seep in.
You need to be careful about these things since you don’t want to end up with soggy, chewy, or smelly nori once you take it out. When living in more humid places, this becomes even more important because it becomes much easier for the nori to absorb moisture even if it is briefly left out in the open.
While it is fine to some extent to keep the nori in its original package as long as you seal it properly, it’s always advised to transfer it to a more secure container. A Ziploc bag would be the best option here since it’s easy to get ahold of and can properly contain nori for storage in practically any environment. Just make sure to lock it perfectly, every time.
Should You Moisten Seaweed for Sushi?
No, you should not. Your nori should be perfectly crispy when you get it out of the package and you should roll it along with your rice and other fillings as is. This will make sure that it will be as crispy possible for as long as possible, thus allowing you to enjoy it more.
What Type of Nori is Best for Sushi?
The normal dark-green sushi nori should do for practically any kind of sushi needs. You just need to make sure that the nori has been toasted already. If it has not been toasted, you need to toast it yourself before wrapping the sushi in it. This is important for crispiness.
How Sushi Nori is Used
Sushi nori is used in making sushi through several methods. The most common is to simply wrap the sushi rice and ingredients in it, with the nori being the outer layer. This is the best for beginners because it takes less skill and you can preserve the quality of your sushi better by doing so.
This particular method is also one of the most traditional apart from nigiri sushi, which we will get into in a bit. through this method, you can gain a better mastery of the rolling of the sushi and you are left with less of a mess.
The second method is rolling the sushi with the nori inside. This allows you to add some extra ingredients on the rice after rolling such as toasted sesame seeds or sushi caviar. It’s a bit messier, but it adds more flavor.
Finally, there is nigiri sushi or onigiri, which involves no rolling. You in the former, you form the rice into something like a small block and placing a slice of fish, egg, or nori on top. In onigiri, you basically form a triangle with the rice. You then place a strip of nori on the base to wrap it on the side before putting toppings on top.
Eating Sushi Nori Without the Sushi
Believe it or not, nori can actually be enjoyed even if it isn’t part of a sushi dish. The most straightforward way to do this is by simply snacking on them. While they may take some getting used to for those with a more western palate, they can be quite enjoyable.
You could also shred the nori and sprinkle them on top of a huge variety of dishes, many of which don’t even necessarily need to be of Japanese or Asian origin. Go ahead and try sprinkling it on a plate of pasta puttanesca to see how it fits.
On the other hand, if you are eating some ramen, adding a bit of nori to it can really bring the dish to a whole new level. If it is just an instant ramen that you get from a packet, the difference is still palpable. You can do this with rice dishes, as well, and it is actually encouraged that you do so since it adds even more nutrients to your meal.
These are just some of the ways in which you can enjoy sushi nori without sushi. You are sure to find more when you experiment a bit.