Mozuku is a unique Okinawan seaweed loaded with many health benefits. It’s an Okinawan treasure eaten raw, dressed with sweet vinegar, deep-fried, or in soups. Mozuku Seaweed is 99% edible seaweed grown in Okinawa, an island prefecture in the far south of Japan. Harvested in the spring, seaweed has a unique, slimy texture. It has been a healthy Okinawan diet for decades, and mozuku also enjoys popularity in mainland Japan.
What is Mozuku?
Mozuku seaweed (Cladosiphon okamuranus) is a brown seaweed from Okinawa. It harvests from the coastal waters of Okinawa, where 99% is grown in artificial plantations. The harvest season is short, between April and June. However, owing to global warming, mozuku yields have declined, affecting the ocean ecosystem as many marine organisms depend on seaweed as a nesting site. Scientists have worked hard to create different strains that can withstand warmer waters to safeguard the future of this algae.
It contains large quantities of vitamins, minerals and amino acids. It is said to be one of the secrets of the long lifespan of Okinawan people.
How to Use?
You can eat it raw and cooked, although it is best eaten raw for its nutrients. Inland Japan, you can find ready-to-eat mozuku seasoned with vinegar in individual packets. You can also find dried, unseasoned mozuku. Okinawans eat mozuku in salads, tempuras, gyoza, soups, stir-fries, and omelettes.
Okinawans are known for their longevity, which is longer than the Japanese. Their secret is in their diet, and one of those healthy foods they eat regularly is mozuku.
It’s high in insoluble dietary fibre, which keeps you feeling full without bloating or discomfort. Fibre keeps you regular and helps get rid of excess waste. It is also a brilliant source of antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins and minerals, which are great for overall health and the immune system. In particular, it is an excellent source of vitamin K, which is essential for healthy blood and bones.
In particular, it contains fucoidan, the exceptional stickiness found only in brown algae like kombu and mozuku. Fucoidan can prevent the creation of blood clots and cancerous tumours, and lab tests show that it contains anti-cancer and blood-thinning properties.
How do Okinawans Commonly Eat Mozuku Seaweed?
Brown seaweed is harvested by hand from warm, shallow waters off Okinawa and then rinsed to remove any remaining sand or hidden sea creatures.
To preserve its health benefits, Okinawans often eat mozuku raw, seasoned with mild vinegar, or combined with other gut-healthy ingredients such as natto, also known as fermented soy; however, it can also be eaten fried (in tempura) or in soups. The best way to get your hands on (literally) the freshest form of seaweed would be to harvest it yourself, but you can also find packaged mozuku in Japanese grocery stores or on Amazon, like this dried version.
Finally, mozuku has an exclusive texture and flavour sought by cooking fanatics. The secret of this distinctive taste is inside the mozuku’s DNA, and it could now be possible to understand which part of the genetic code is responsible for it. The decryption of the genome of Okinawa mozuku is an essential step for the future of this seaweed.