The bounty of the ocean: healthy, delicious seaweed MARUTOKU NORI Co., Ltd.

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Category: Japanese Food

Choosing delicious

Marutoku Nori Co. Ltd. hasn't always been focused on nori, the variety of sea vegetable most famously eaten wrapped around sushi. When the company was founded in Hiroshima in 1949, it had its fingers in several different pies, but eventually altered course to focus on the dried seaweed sheets also known as laver. Why the change? Mayumi Hamano, senior managing director, throws her head back and laughs at the question. "Because it's delicious," she answers. This focus has paid off, as Marutoku has received multiple awards and commendations based on the quality and taste of its products. From two silver medals at the Monde Selection (Food Products) 2010 to being named "The Hiroshima Brand" in 2009, Marutoku Nori has been recognized both at home and abroad for its excellence.

Senior Managing Director Mayumi Hamano, daughter of founder Tokuzo Hamano and mother of current CEO Noriyuki Hamano

Delicious, nutritious dried nori can be eaten on its own as a snack

From the ocean's garden

It has been in the news countless times-sea vegetables are superstars in the world of good-for-you foods. But between texture and taste, it can be hard for many to get on the ocean plant bandwagon. This, however, is where nori pulls ahead of its marine greens competition. With its crisp texture and delicate flavor, nori makes for an effortless introduction, even coming in seasoned varieties that are as easy to munch through as a bag of chips. Marutoku Nori offers three distinctive flavors: wasabi (rumored to be the spiciest in Japan), sea salt and oyster-all delicious and zesty. Better still, all flavorings are MSG-free, an unusual feature in the flavored seaweed business.

The great taste of Marutoku nori makes it particularly enjoyable to crunch on seaweed, which is a good thing since it is very high in protein, fiber, iron and vitamins A, B and K. And women take note-not only is nori high in calcium, it's also loaded with folate, an essential vitamin for healthy pregnancies.

Nori is also a surprisingly versatile product. A glance at Marutoku Nori's online recipe index (in English, French and Japanese) reveals techniques from the traditional (think sushi and seafood) to Western dishes and even desserts. But it's just as delectable eaten as a snack on its own as it is with cheese and wine.

Rising tide

The made-in-Japan Marutoku Nori brand is already available in several countries in Asia and Europe as well as the US. Being in various markets has provided the company with valuable know-how in promoting its products to different cultures. It hopes to expand to Islamic countries, where several of its flavors meet Halal standards.

Marutoku Nori is still involved in the production of other food products, like curries to be eaten with rice. And the brand is keen to partner with other companies in a trading capacity to export select Japanese products abroad. With several employees fluent in English, Marutoku Nori feels it's in an ideal position to continue its expansion around the world.

One of many ways to enjoy nori is with a bowl of white rice