What Does Seaweed Taste Like? Comprehensive Guide

The underwater world is amazing. You cannot but admire the beauty of fish, sea reefs, and seaweed. You will be surprised, but seaweed is not only beautiful but also tasty. One may deny – how smelly seaweed you spot on the beaches can be tasty. Well, not all seaweed is edible. And you can continue avoiding those on the beaches.

This article will be an interesting discovery of the world of seaweed. You will find information on the kinds of seaweed, its taste, health benefits, and what dishes you can make with this nutritional sea treasure. So, let’s start our voyage.

What does seaweed taste like? Seaweed taste depends on several factors – the type of seaweed, its origin, and the way of preparation (fresh or dried). Generally, seaweed has a salty, briny, and umami taste. Someone compares it with fish taste, but if it does not have the fish taste, it has the taste of the ocean. 

What Is Seaweed?

Seaweed is a general name for different species of algae and marine plants growing in oceans, seas, rivers, lakes, and other water bodies. It comes in different sizes, from microscopic phytoplankton to large kelp that has its roots on the bottom of the ocean and sea. Also, they are different in colors – green, red, brown, and black. Seaweed is essential not only for inland populations but also for sea creatures that rely on seaweed as food and habitat. Those plants are used as food, fertilizer, and pharmaceuticals. Also, it is studied to be used as biofuel.

Edible seaweed is mostly marine, whereas freshwater algae are not consumed by people. The most famous seaweed is probably nori since it is commonly used in Japanese cuisine, for example, in miso soup or sushi. You also might have heard of kombu or kelp. Its dry strips are used in cuisine, and powdered kombu is used in Japanese tea Kombucha. Other popular seaweed varieties include wakame, ogonori, umibudo, dulse, and hijiki.

Most seaweed harvested now is grown on ocean farms. Seaweed farming, in particular 3D or vertical farming, is very sustainable. It does not require fresh water, feed, or fertilizer. Moreover, seaweed helps to combat ocean acidification due to its ability to suck up carbon dioxide. Vertical farming makes it possible to harvest a large amount of seaweed from small areas which makes it not only environmentally sustainable but economically efficient and profitable.

Seaweed Taste Ultimate Guide – What Does Seaweed Taste Like?

People have been using ocean gifts, including seaweed, in their diets for centuries. Primarily you could find seaweed in meals of coastal countries, but now it has spread all over the world.

Although often described as fishy, seaweed does not have a pronounced fish taste. It has a rather salty, umami, and ocean-like taste. Sometimes seaweed also has some notes of bitterness. Mainly the taste depends on the type of seaweed.

Thanks to our love for sushi, nori became one of the most popular seaweed. You probably have spotted those green sheets of dried nori on the supermarket shelves. Before ending up there, nori undergoes complicated processing into paper-like shits. If you try them, they generally have a salty and briny taste. Also, the dying process gives nori a more sharp fishy flavor. Miso soup lovers know another type of seaweed – wakame. Wakame is a brown seaweed that is mostly used in soups and salads. It has a mild, briny, and sweet flavor.

If you want to try something with a stronger umami flavor, kombu is the very thing. It contains a high level of monosodium glutamate (MSG) which is responsible for that flavor. For example, you can see on the dried leaves of kombu white powder. This is MSG. Do not worry, it is completely safe and gives that particular rich umami flavor.

Can you believe that seaweed tastes like bacon? But it is true. Red seaweed dulse, which grows in the North Atlantic and the Arctic, has a savory and salty flavor. It is sold in the form of flakes and can be added to soups, sauces, and stews as a spice.

Probably you have not seen seaweed grapes which are called umibudo since it is not popular outside Asia. It resembles fish roe and has a mix of sweet, salt, and a bit acidic flavor.

As you can see, seaweed comes to our tables both fresh and dried. They are different not only in texture but also in taste. Fresh seaweed has a less fishy and salty taste, whereas dried seaweed has a more distinctive salty, fishy, and umami flavor. Due to its taste, dried seaweed can be a good substitute for fish in vegan dishes.

Does Seaweed Taste Fishy?

Not everything coming from the ocean or sea tastes like fish. The same goes for seaweed. Seaweed does not have a strong fishy taste but rather an umami and salty. Also, the taste depends on whether seaweed is fresh or dried since dried seaweed tends to have a more fishy taste. 

Seaweed, as well as fish, contains triethylamine, which gives it a fishy taste. Therefore, seaweed indeed has some fishy notes. Especially dried ones such as nori have a more distinctive flavor because to make dried shits, nori undergoes the drying and dying processes.

Does Seaweed Taste Like Meat?

Generally, seaweed does not taste like meat. However, dried red seaweed dulse tastes like bacon. And if you choose blindly between bacon and dulse, you will probably not see any difference between them. Therefore, it can become a perfect substitute for bacon in vegan dishes. 

Dulse is red seaweed grown in cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean. It is famous for its bacon-like taste and can be served in sandwiches or salads. You can find dulse in small quantities in healthy food shops.

Is Seaweed an Acquired Taste?

Yes, when you try seaweed, you know that it is an acquired taste. Due to its flavor, seaweed is very hard to mix with anything else. It indeed tastes like ocean and sea, but it does not have a strong fishy flavor.

If you do not like seafood, you probably won’t like seaweed, especially dried ones, because nori, for example, undergoes a difficult process of preparation before rolling up your sushi. This makes its taste umami, fishy, and for sure acquired.

What Texture Does Seaweed Have?

We are more than happy to say that seaweed texture is not only slimy as the majority might think. The seaweed texture varies from slimy and chewy to crispy and crunchy. Fresh seaweed is chewy and slimy, while dried is crunchy unless soaked in water.

The texture of seaweed depends on the type of seaweed and the way of preparation. Thus, wakame and kombu are soft and chewy. Dulse has a soft and leathery texture. On the other hand, nori sheets are crunchy and crispy. 

Also, as you might have noticed, seaweed taste depends on the texture. Dried seaweed has a saltier umami taste, and fresh is soft and less fishy.

What Does Seaweed Smell Like?

If we are talking about seaweed we eat in different meals, it has a fishy salty smell. It smells like the sea. Whereas you can also recall the smell of seaweed on beaches because it has the smell of rotten eggs. 

Dried seaweed has the taste of dried fish. Fresh seaweed does not have that well-pronounced smell. But rotten seaweed, due to the formation of hydrogen sulfide, has the unpleasant smell of rotten eggs.

How to Make Seaweed Taste Better?

The combination of seaweed with other products does its part and makes it taste better. Seaweed is well-combined with creamy, savory food, for example, hummus and avocado. And soaking in water reduces the salty and fishy taste of dried seaweed. 

The best way to make seaweed taste better is to cook it. The easiest way is to soak seaweed in cold water to minimize the flavor and smell. Also, seasoning may change the taste. Try to season seaweed with sesame oil and salt.

Usually, the process of cooking seaweed itself is not diverse. It can be soaked, seasoned, or dried. The thing that makes a difference is its combination with other products.

What Tastes Good With Seaweed?

Seaweed itself has a strong flavor, therefore, it is best combined with creamy foods without a pronounced taste. Such products include avocado, hummus, cucumber, and tofu. Seaweed tastes good in soups, sushi, or bowls.

Well-known sushi is not the only meal with seaweed. Japanese miso soup with tofu and seaweed soup with beef are non-trivial examples of meals. Paste with chickpeas, lemon, olive oil, and dried seaweed will add a rich umami taste to other snacks.

Make avocado meals more diverse by adding dried seaweed, lemon juice, and sesame seeds. Or, next time when you do the movie night, add some dried seaweed to your popcorn. And smoothie fans are more than encouraged to add seaweed to green smoothies.

Seaweed Health Benefits

Seaweed is extremely healthy. First of all, it is rich in iodine which is very important for the thyroid, but our organism does not produce it. Also, seaweed is full of microelements such as iron, magnesium, folate, and calcium.

Nori is high in protein, hijiki – in fiber and calcium, dulse has a high level of vitamins B6 and B12, and wakame is rich in calcium. Also, its low-calorie level and great nutritional value make it an excellent choice for healthy diets.

Is Seaweed a Superfood? Often you can hear that seaweed is a superfood. It is true. Due to its high nutritious value and great health benefits, seaweed can be considered a superfood. But don’t overdo it, iodine excess is not good for your health. 


Asian cuisine confidently wins the leading positions in the world, bringing seaweed to our tables. It is not as fishy and disgusting as you might have heard. In addition to the unusual umami taste, seaweed is rich in nutritious elements and is very healthy.

Try not to limit yourself only to sushi but feel free to try seaweed in soups, salads, toasts, smoothies, or just as a healthy snack. Experiment and enjoy the gift from the ocean.

Seaweed Taste FAQ

How Do You Get Rid of Fishy Smell in Seaweed?

Soaking or seasoning is the best way to get rid of fishy taste and smell. Before consuming, soak seaweed in cold water till you do not feel the smell anymore. Another simple way is to season seaweed with sesame oil or lemon juice.

What Does Seaweed Taste Like in Sushi?

Sushi is served with nori–dried red seaweed that looks like paper. It is salty and umami, but once moistened it is fresh and has a less pronounced fishy taste, and is chewy. Overall, balanced with other ingredients, seaweed in sushi has a softer and less salty taste.

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