If you’re a fan of unique foods, then you’ve come to the right place!
My love for Japanese food knows no bounds, and I simply love to try everything that Japanese cuisine has to offer.
One unique food item that I simply love to eat in Japanese restaurants and make at home is the refreshing Umibudo or sea grapes.
You can have raw sea grapes with soy sauce, soups and salads, and rice. They are a particular specialty of Okinawa, Japan, where you can find it in all sorts of dishes, from sushi to ice cream.
This is bound to make you wonder, “What do sea grapes taste like?”
Read on to find out everything you need to know about sea grapes!
What Are Sea Grapes?
Sea grapes or green caviar are a kind of algae species that’s a pretty popular food in certain parts of Japan, particularly in Okinawa, and in some parts of south-east Asia.
The Japanese have named it Umibudo, which translates into two words, sea (umi) and grapes (budo).
The name “sea grapes” comes from the appearance of this seaweed variety; it looks like tiny clusters of green grapes.
The edible bubbles are technically the leafy part of the seaweed, and they grow on a long edible stem.
What Do Sea Grapes Taste Like?
So, what do sea grapes taste like? Sea grapes have a unique taste and texture. The taste of sea grapes is a little salty or briny, just like the taste of ocean water.
Some people believe that sea grapes also have a sweet and acidic flavor, which is heightened when you chew on them.
With that said, sea grapes taste quite similar to seaweed and their texture is akin to that of caviar.
Interestingly, the sound of the sea grapes busting into your mouth is known as “puchi-puchi”, which is an onomatopoeia that refers to the popping of the sea grapes.
How to Eat Sea Grapes
There are various ways in which you can eat sea grapes. They add a wonderful texture and freshness to whichever dish you add them to.
In Okinawa, restaurants serve sea grapes in multiple ways. The simplest way of serving sea grapes is to layer them on top of a bowl of freshly-prepared rice, which is known as umibudo don.
To add some more flavors to it, you can top the dish with a sauce called sanbaisu.
They are also eaten raw and served with soy sauce or a blend of vinegar, soy sauce, and mirin.
This is a spectacular side dish that is readily served with a bottle of beer in many restaurants in Okinawa.
You can also add sea grapes to soups or have grilled sea grapes.
With that said, sea grapes are often always eaten raw because cooking them destroys their flavor and unique texture.
You can also turn the sea grapes into a sushi dish or have it with ponzu, which is a citrusy sauce.
Where Do Sea Grapes Come From?
Sea grapes are native to the Caribbean, but they are also grown in certain regions of the Pacific Ocean, which is why they have so many different names.
In the Philippines, they are known as Lato, Guto, or Arosep, while in Malaysia, they are called Latok.
In Japan, they are known as umibudo.
In Japan, a large chunk of the sea grapes that are eaten throughout the country comes from Okinawa. This is because sea grapes tend to thrive in sandy, floored, shallow ocean water with a mild temperature.
Okinawa, with its 77 degrees Fahrenheit, is the ideal temperature for sea grapes to grow in.
Although sea grapes were traditionally harvested from the ocean floor, their increased demand and the resultant overharvesting in Okinawa have led farmers to create local sea grape farms.
Are Sea Grapes Sweet?
As I’ve mentioned above, the taste of sea grapes is briny just like ocean water. With that said, some people do argue that sea grapes have a sweet undertone and a slightly acidic flavor.
These subtle sweet notes become a bit prominent when you chew them.
Are Sea Grapes Edible?
Yes, sea grapes are edible! Both the bubbles of the sea grapes and the stems are edible or perfectly safe to devour and as mentioned above, you can have them in various ways.
The Bottom Line
I hope you found the answer to your question “What do sea grapes taste like?”. Sea grapes have a unique briny and refreshing taste and they complement various dishes.
If you’re a fan of Japanese cuisine and haven’t tried sea grapes yet, then what are you waiting for?
Go and try these delectable sea grapes now!