Why Is My Nori Chewy? (Solved!)
The preparation of sushi is both a science and an art. Each ingredient drastically affects the final taste. One of the most common issues that even experienced home sushi chefs face is the wrong texture of nori.
If you’ve ever wondered, ‘why is my nori chewy?’, I’m here to answer that question.
First of all, if you have low-quality nori or seaweed, then that’s a great explanation as to the chewiness. However, if you invested in high-quality seaweed, and it’s still chewy, it may be because it was open for too long, exposed to air for too long, or exposed to high humidity levels. Air and moisture will make nori chewy.
In this guide, I’ll explain how high-quality nori is supposed to taste and the reasons for seaweed becoming chewy. I’ll also share advice on preventing this from happening.
So read on to obtain the sacred knowledge of handling nori the right way and improve your sushi-making skills.
Is Seaweed Supposed to Be Chewy?
Seaweed differs in characteristics depending on the type. Generally, fresh, unprepared seaweed is supposed to be chewy. Nori is a special kind of edible seaweed that’s usually found in the form of dried sheets.
High-quality nori stored and prepared following best practices shouldn’t be chewy. Ideally, nori should have subtle sweetness with no fish flavor or other strange tastes. Texture-wise, the perfect nori should be crisp from the first bite, then melt on the tongue.
Low-quality nori, however, is often mixed with other seaweed kinds. This results in a strange smell and taste mix. The texture of such nori is either overly dry or chewy.
However, the low quality of seaweed isn’t the only reason nori may be chewy. This can happen even to the best nori. Read on to find out potential reasons why your nori may not taste and feel as desired.
Reasons Why Nori Can Turn Out Chewy
Apart from the initial low quality of a product, nori may turn chewy due to storage and preparation mistakes. The most common reason is excessive moisture. Be aware when handling seaweed with wet hands, placing it on a damp counter, or storing it in humid conditions.
Another mistake is prolonged air exposure. You shouldn’t keep nori open for extended periods without any cover. Thus, always close your nori packet and don’t spend too much time preparing sushi. This also relates to ready sushi. It must be eaten fresh; otherwise, the texture will be compromised.
Finally, make sure that the nori you’re using is toasted. Untoasted seaweed is chewy by default. The condition is usually indicated on the pack. In this case, the problem can be easily solved by toasting the sheets.
How to Prevent Nori From Becoming Chewy
Once you’ve identified the reason for your nori becoming chewy, you can take measures to prevent it from happening again. Below, I’ll share the top tips to prevent your nori from losing crispiness.
Consume Your Sushi as Soon as Possible
Traditionally, sushi, and, consequently, nori, is consumed soon after they were rolled. Placing remaining sushi into the fridge until the next day is a common mistake leading to nori becoming chewy. Thus, don’t save the delicious meal for later – eat it now.
Learn to Prepare Sushi Faster
Any contact with air makes nori chewier. The longer seaweed is exposed, the worse its texture is. I advise improving your skills in preparing sushi quickly. It takes a bit of practice, but you’ll roll the nori sheet in a couple of moves after some time.
Dry Rice Before Using It
Even if your counter and hands are dry and the nori is of the highest quality, moist rice can ruin everything. Of course, some individuals prefer using slightly damp rice as it’s stickier. However, this inevitably leads to chewy nori.
One way to avoid this is to reduce the volume of water you use when cooking the rice. Then, leave it draining for a while. You may even place it on parchment until it dries thoroughly. If you’re using bagged sushi rice, bang the bag against a surface to quickly get rid of excessive water.
Search for Other Nori Brands
You may do everything right in storage and preparation, but this won’t make low-quality nori crispy. Try out different nori brands, especially the more expensive ones, and see if there’s a difference.
High-end seaweed is generally thinner, with a more pleasant dark to medium-green color and an even texture without streaks. Also, pay attention to whether the nori is toasted.
Another factor to point out is the country of seaweed origin. Japanese nori is generally better than Chinese versions.
You may even want to try a seaweed alternative to make your sushi – click here to learn more.
Toast the Nori
Quickly heating the nori on each side in an oven or a pan is the best method to add the desired crispiness. It can make high-quality nori even better and resolve the issue of improperly stored or handled nori being chewy.
Unfortunately, toasting is unlikely to improve the texture of initially low-quality seaweed.
Dry Your Hands Thoroughly
Moistening your hands before handling rice helps to avoid it sticking. However, extra moisture also leads to nori becoming chewy. Thus, don’t forget to wipe your hands thoroughly each time before touching nori.
Store Nori Properly
Seal the nori packet after every use, ensuring there are no gaps. If the original package is unsealable, place the sheets into a lidded box or food storage bag.
The best practice is to store nori in a cool and dry place. Try to use the remaining seaweed within four weeks after first opening the package.
On this topic, for information on how to properly store fish used for sushi, check out my article here.
Use a High-Quality Rolling Mat
Nori is rolled using makisu, a rolling matt. Typically, this mat is made from bamboo, although you can also find alternatives from silicone and other materials.
The issue with synthetic materials is that they don’t absorb moisture as well as bamboo. Thus, I recommend opting for a traditional makisu type.
So why is my nori chewy? Hopefully this guide helped you answer this question.
By following our simple advice, you can enhance the taste of your sushi immensely. Every little step counts. Purchase high-quality Japanese nori, ensure minimal moisture, roll and consume the sushi quickly. This way, you’ll never have to struggle with chewing seaweed for too long again.