Have you had Sea Grapes? Umibudo seaweed is a superfood that gives you a taste of the ocean!
The first time I heard about sea grapes, I didn’t know what it was or what to expect so I made sure to try it and learn about it.
Here’s everything you need to know about this green algae.
What Are Sea Grapes?
Scientifically named “caulerpa lentillifera,” Sea Grapes is a tropical aquatic vegetable that thrive in sandy, floored, shallow ocean water with a mild temperature found along the coastal regions of the Indo-Pacific.
Did you know? This green algae is often mixed up with seagrape from the Caribbean, but they are totally different.
Sea grapes are a type of seaweed while seagrape is a tropical tree (coccoloba uvifera) that’s native in the Caribbean.
This seaweed variety is called sea grapes because it looks like clusters of tiny green grapes, known for its pleasing appearance, refreshing taste and “pop” when you eat it.
One thing that’s great about this green algae is everything is edible.
The tiny bubbles, grapes or caviar are edible and they are technically the leafy part of this seaweed.
The long stem on which they grow is also edible.
Are Sea Grapes Actually Fish Eggs?
Sea grapes are also called green caviar because they look like green colored fish roe or caviar that pop upon eating.
Though sea grapes look like caviar, they are not caviar.
They are a type of seaweed.
Where Do Sea Grapes Come From?
You’ll mostly find green caviar in Asia, primarily across Japan and Southeast Asia, where this fresh seaweed is part of the local cuisine and can be found in restaurants and markets.
In Japan, the real term for sea grapes in Japanese is kubiretsuta.
But they are more commonly called umi-budō because this term literally means “sea grapes” (umi is sea and budo is grapes).
They are very popular in Japan and considered a delicacy, especially in Okinawa where a lot of Japan’s supply of umibudo comes from.
A lot of traditional Japanese food can be enjoyed with sea grapes which we’ll cover more in the later section.
In the Philippines, this green seaweed algae is referred to as latô, arosep or guto.
Though it’s a delicacy, it usually doesn’t make the cut for exotic Filipino foods.
In Malaysia, green caviar is known as latok and are mostly found in Sabah.
What Do Sea Grapes Taste Like?
The best way I can describe umibudo is they taste like seaweed with the fresh salty taste of the ocean.
But the bite is like caviar with the crunchy pop of the bubbles, which is the best part.
Are Sea Grapes Seaweed Healthy?
As a seaweed, green caviar have lots of nutrition and health benefits, packed with vitamins and minerals.
This is why sea grapes have the nickname of “longevity seaweed” in Japan.
It’s not surprising that people in Okinawa live longer than most, not just in Japan, but in the world.
Okinawans eat a healthy portion of umi-budō as part of their daily diet.
Umibudo is low in calories, have medicinal properties and is a good source of minerals, vitamins A and C, calcium, zinc and iron.
This green seaweed algae is also high on omega3 fatty acids as well as vegetable protein per calorie.
All the more reasons to try umibudo, aside from its good taste, right?
In fact, green caviar is starting to gain popularity worldwide as THE next superfood.
How To Eat Umibudo?
To eat umibudo, you put the seaweed in a cold water bath for 5-6 minutes before eating then watch the magic happen as they grow 3-4 times in size.
After the bath, do a quick rinse to remove the sea water taste some more.
Where To Buy Sea Grapes?
It’s not too common to find umibudo outside of Asia, but luckily you can buy dehydrated sea grapes on Amazon here.
You can also look for sea grapes at specialty Asian grocery stores or suppliers in your area.
If you’re in Asia like Japan, Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam, you can usually find this edible seaweed fresh in markets and restaurants.
12 Different Ways To Eat Umibudo
The great thing with this green seaweed algae is that, aside from being tasty, they are quite versatile and can be enjoyed in different ways or even as-is.
1. Sea Grapes with Soy Sauce
The briny, seawater taste of umibudo pairs well with soy sauce.
2. Sea Grapes with Vinegar
The sourness of the vinegar balances with the green caviar’s saltiness.
3. Sea Grapes with Roasted Sesame Sauce
4. Fresh Seafood Salad or Chirashi
6. Sea Grapes Rice Bowl (Umibudo Don)
9. Filipino Seaweed Salad (Ensaladang Lato)
This Filipino Seaweed Salad uses green caviar (lato) mixed typically with tomatoes, onions, mango and calamansi (instead of vinegar).
It’s a popular salad usually served along with grilled seafood.
10. Poke Bowl
11. Rice Bowls or Noodle Dishes
12. Umibudo Ice Cream
Have a sweet tooth? If you’re an adventurous eater, you can find umi-budō ice cream in Okinawa.
So far, this is the most unique way I’ve seen green caviar used and something I’ll be on the look out for on my next trip to Japan.
Hope this guide to sea grapes help give you an idea what to expect with this green algae.
Now the question is: would you try umibudo? If so, how would you like to enjoy this edible seaweed?