Japanese Nori is a key ingredient in the Japanese kitchen that has become well-known all over the world through their essential part of traditional “sushi” dishes.
However, there is much more to the art of nori than just holding sushi and onirigi rice balls together. Morihan (est. 1901) has been harvesting and producing high quality nori for 120 years and knows exactly how to create delicious, crisp, flavorful dried seaweed. Morihan has a unique production method to ensure the best quality for their nori.
Nori is produced in the second crop (October-December / January-April).
Freshly harvested seaweed comes in every year in January. It arrives while it’s still moist and gets stretched and dried in Morihan’s special underground factory. One large piece of seaweed (equal to approximately 100 sheets of nori seaweed) is spread, lightly folded in half, divided into 50 pieces, and wrapped. The nori is checked for its quality by specialists. Being a natural product, each sheet will have a slightly different quality, and Morihan ranks them according to grades, based on their experience of working them. The final quality depends on, especially, three things: the place of harvesting, the nori craftsmen, and the date of harvesting. Morihan is particular about the very firstly harvested batch, as this will result in premium texture and flavor.
After being sorted, the sheets get lined up in what is called a “roaster”, to carefully dry.
Many contemporary producers use a hot air fan, which will quickly spread air and speed up the drying process, but Morihan works according to traditional methods, using an electric heating roaster with 5 different shelves: The nori slowly, and carefully dried and moved down a shelve after careful inspection every half-day. The process takes 2,5 days. As the seaweed is dried very gradually, the original flavor and strong umami remain and come through perfectly in the final nori sheets. As seaweed is a living algae, no matter how skillfully they handle the base ingredient, the flavor profile and exact taste will be different every year. The company organizes intense tasting- and training sessions each year to best determine the production and understanding of that year’s nori.