We know caviar as the salted fish roe that is commonly found on sushi and canapes. When bitten into, these mini black or orange pearls give a burst of saltiness.
Now embrace a new kind: Green caviar.
The difference? Unlike its cousins that hail from fish, green caviar is actually a type of seaweed that happens to have many beads growing on its stem. It looks exactly like salted fish eggs, hence the name green caviar.
Also known as sea grapes, green caviar used to be found only in countries like Japan, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam - but not any more.
This novelty food has made its way to our shore, thanks to globalisation and some entrepreneurial spirits.
You can order it online via www.mealbelly.com, a local start-up by Ms Dirisa Tan.
Four years ago, Ms Tan had her first taste of green caviar when her dad brought it back from Vietnam.
Ms Tan loved it so much she decided to make green caviar available here. Prices start from $3 for a 20g serving.
She said: "Green caviar is not just versatile - it is also jam-packed with health benefits. It easily complements staple dishes such as salads and soups and is a healthy snack when eaten on its own or with a dipping sauce."
So what does green caviar taste like?
True to its origin, green caviar is salty and slightly fishy.
It can be a bit much to bear if you are eating more than just a handful. Dip it into something savoury, like Thai chilli sauce or miso sauce for a more palatable snack.
It can also be a topping for soup, salad or rice.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF GREEN CAVIAR
Strengthens bones and joints
Green caviar is rich in protein, calcium and polyunsaturated fatty acids found in the omega-3 group. These nutrients are known for their anti-inflammatory properties.
Protects eyes and heart
The unsaturated fatty acids in green caviar help to boost eyesight and memory, as well as reduce cholesterol levels and the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as stroke and heart attack.
Lowers risk of hypertension and diabetes
Green caviar is rich in calcium, potassium and vitamin C, which can regulate blood pressure.
The high omega-3 fatty acid content helps to decrease insulin resistance.
Helps prevent thyroid goiters
A goiter is the abnormal enlargement of the thyroid gland, which may cause coughing or difficulty in swallowing or breathing.
Green caviar is rich in iodine, with a 100g containing about 1.8mg of the mineral. One serving of green caviar daily provides sufficient iodine to help prevent goiter.
Promotes radiant skin and silky hair
Similar to other types of seaweed, green caviar contains healthy fats that can protect cell membranes from free radical damage, thereby improving skin elasticity.
It is also a source of collagen and antioxidants, two beauty weapons that fight the negative effects of ageing.
Fights cancerous cells
Seaweed contains Fucoidan, a natural compound with anti-cancer properties.
Several studies found Fucoidan to have significant anti-tumour as well as immune system-boosting effects.
That is why seaweed such as kelp, kombu and wakame are on the superfoods list - and that includes green caviar.
Keeps your weight in check
Green caviar contains a mere 4kcal a 100g while offering tons of nutrition from its high iodine, zinc, omega-3, calcium, potassium and vitamin content.
This story was originally published on www.shape.com.sg
This article was first published on Jan 23, 2017.
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