Karengo, Nori & Laver – Same Plant, Different Traditional Uses

sushi nori wild nori on the rocks

Thanks to the popularity of sushi, we have learnt to appreciate nori, a thin purple-green seaweed that has made its way into our diet mostly thru the roasted & glazed sheets that are widely available as a ‘healthy’ food in a variety of food outlets.

Little do we know and appreciate that Maori has had nori (called Karengo in NZ) as part of their traditional fare for centuries! Karengo was a festive food but also an important supplement to the winter diet because of its high nutritional value – rich in protein, minerals & vitamins and a good source of iodine.

Maori traditional kai: seared paua seasoned with karengo (native seaweed), native pepper and lime and ‘boiled’ Karengo on bread: photo https://www.odt.co.nz/lifestyle/magazine/guided-past


Another clue that seaweed is not an ‘Asian thing’ is that before WW1, every continent in the western world had seaweed traditions, which were quickly forgotten when we learned to make extracts and pills instead of eating whole foods. Beside Asian nations, only a few communities in the west have preserved these traditions.  The Welsh people are one of these communities and they still consume a local dish called ‘laverbread’ made with laver, a seaweed you may say is the European cousin to Karengo.

Laverbread or ‘bara lawr’ in Welsh is an important traditional food of historical value. A national delicacy made from seaweed, it is washed and then cooked to a soft greenish black paste. Made from laver, one of the most nutritious varieties of seaweed, laverbread is full of health benefits. Rich in minerals and vitamins, full of protein and low in calories, this is a real superfood.  A rare plant source of vitamin B12, it is also full of iron and iodine.


Disclaimer: This material is provided for educational purposes only and IS NOT intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This information is generic and should be verified by a qualified health practitioner for specific & individual needs & requirements.

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