What comes to your mind when you hear the words “sea grapes (Umibudo)?”
Some will probably think, “A kind of fruit…?”
Okinawa prefecture is famously known as “The Land of Sea Grapes.” One of the ways to enjoy them is in a sea grapes rice bowl (Umibudo Don), which is now very popular, especially among tourists. When you eat sea grapes as a bowl, you can put them on white rice, and some shops offer fresh seafood for the toppings as well. This way you can enjoy the taste and texture of sea grapes, plus the combination with everything else, in one bowl.
By the way, you still might be wondering what exactly are sea grapes.
Sea grapes from the beautiful Okinawan sea
First of all, sea grapes are not any kind of fruit, but seaweed, which inhabit the warm seas such as those in Okinawa prefecture. The natural sea grapes are so precious that they can only inhabit a place where the water temperature is not too high nor too low, and they must have great water conditions. Nowadays, due to its advancement, aquafarming technology has become the popular method among farmers for harvesting sea grapes. However, due to its limited circulation, it was not as famous as natural harvesting until now. By the way, even though sea grapes have been popular among many Japanese people since the Okinawan cuisine boom started, eating sea grapes at home is not a common habit of locals, even though they love them.
Unique popping texture!
When you eat the sea grapes for the first time you might say,
“Wow! The texture is interesting!”
Yes, the popping texture of sea grapes is the highlight – the small pods pop and then spread a bit of salty ocean flavour in your mouth. They are also called “green caviar” due to their shape and texture, and beautiful green colour.
Normally, sea grapes are eaten raw like sashimi, and are dipped into soy sauce or some other sauce, such as ponzu vinegar and so on. When you eat them, do not soak them in the sauce for a long time, but just dip them a little bit. Actually, they are a bit sensitive because when they are cooked or kept in inappropriate situations, they shrink and lose their precious texture.
Mineral, dietary… nutrition rich
At first glance, sea grapes might not seem nutritious. However, they are actually the source of rich nutrients like minerals and dietary fibre which have a good effect on your skin and health. Moreover, 100g of sea grapes contains only 4 kilocalories, so is a great option for those who want to be good in shape.
While September to April is still the best season of the year for sea grapes, thanks to the development of aquafarming technology, sea grapes are provided throughout the year. However, it is said that the pods grow much bigger and richer in nutrition from September to April.
Tips to enjoy sea grapes by your self
You might want to try sea grapes at home.
Here are three tips for you:
・When you choose sea grapes, check to see whether the pods are fine and tight, or fully plump. (The more plump they are, the tastier they are.)
・Do not keep them in the refrigerator, but at room temperature.
・Clean lightly with water before eating. (Ice water is recommended.)
The best place to eat sea grapes is…
The best place to eat the tastiest sea grapes is definitely Okinawa. To tell you the truth, the best time of a year for sea grapes is also the best time to visit Okinawa – neither too hot nor too cold. Why don’t you visit Okinawa to enjoy tasty sea grapes and beautiful islands?