Sea grapes are these quaint little small bubbles. They are also known as green caviar or Umi-bido (Japanese). The word Umi-bido translates into sea grapes in Japanese. The small bubbles are the leaves of the plant, and they grow from a stem that is also edible as well.
Sea grapes are famous in the Indo-Pacific regions. You may have heard of people eating sea grapes and you are skeptical about trying it out because you don’t know what it tastes like.
What do sea grapes taste like? Sea grapes taste like seaweed, salty with a bit of slime feel to them. They also have a sweet and acidic flavor that is heightened when you chew on them. Sea grapes have a texture similar to that of caviar which gives them the nickname Green Caviar. In Japan, the sea grapes are referred to as Puchi Puchi, based on the popping sounds that they make when you chew them.
Sea grapes have a taste and texture that is unique. Throw your skepticism away and give them a try. Now that you know what sea grapes taste like, that’s not all. Think about the possibilities and what you could do with them but first, what importance do sea grapes hold?
Nutritional Benefits of Sea Grapes
Sea grapes are exceptional when it comes to what they have to offer in terms of nutritional benefits. Sea grapes are chocked full of vitamins and minerals. There are measures of sodium, magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin A, and vitamins C, E, and K. Sea grapes also contain a healthy level of omega 3 fatty acids and protein.
In Okinawa Japan, sea grapes are given the nickname “longevity seaweed” because of the benefits that they provide. The sea grape is often stated as the reason why Okinawans live long.
Ingesting sea grapes is a great way to keep your skin and hair flawless and strengthen your bones and your heart. Adding sea grapes to your general diet could help you keep everyday illnesses away by boosting your immune system.
Saving the best for the last, sea grapes contain a compound known as “Fucoidan” which can help keep cancer away.
There is no doubt that sea grapes have a great health benefit for the human body. But all of that wouldn’t be so amazing if you couldn’t eat sea grapes.
Culinary Uses of Sea Grapes
Sea grapes are edible. If they weren’t, we wouldn’t have been able to tell you how they tasted. They can be eaten raw, or used in recipes and dishes. You can add sea grapes to soups or use them to garnish salads. Sea grapes are versatile in the culinary department.
Sea grapes can be eaten with fish sauce or soy sauce if you are skeptical about eating them on their own. The addition of the sauce is a perfect blend that would bring savory flavors to your mouth.
Sea grapes can also be used as toppings for your ice cream, sashimi, and sushi as it brings a different taste to the mix and creates a contrast in both texture and taste. They can also be used alongside herbs and other greens to garnish your salad and give it a crunchy texture as you chew.
There are various recipes online with sea grapes in them, so don’t be afraid to try them in these recipes so you can experience a new and different kind of taste.
Where are Sea Grapes Grown? How Do You Procure Them?
Sea grapes are seaweed, but the increase in demand for them have caused them to be domesticated. Sea grapes come from the oceans in the Indo-Pacific regions and Okinawa predominantly.
If you don’t live in any of those areas, you can still get sea grapes if you check around large convenience stores that sell exotic food items. Sea grapes are usually dried, packed, and soaked in seawater to preserve them.
When you buy them in this form, all you need to do is to wash them thoroughly with clean water and soak them for a few minutes so that you can desalinate and get them soft and moist again.
Outside of Japan, sea grapes are popular in the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam. In Malaysia, they call it Latok. In Vietnam, it is referred to as rong nho or rong nho born which translates into sea grape algae.
Are Sea Grapes Fish Eggs?
No, they are not. Sea grapes might look exactly like salted fish roe that is found in canapes and sushi, but it is not fish roe.
Their resemblance to caviar (salted fish roe) is what earned them the nickname “Green Caviar”. Other than that, there is no relation between the two.
Facts You Don’t Know About Sea Grapes
- Umi-bido is NOT the original name for sea grapes in Japanese. It is a nickname. The actual name for sea grapes in Japanese is “kubiretsuta”.
- If you are a science person, and you were wondering what the scientific name for sea grapes is, here it is. They go as “Caulerpa lentillifera” in the science world. Since all these names could be tongue-wrenching, I see why the nicknames stuck.
- Most of the sea grapes we eat now are harvested from local sea grape farms as high demand and over-harvesting have caused them to be scarce on the ocean floor.