Home Cuisines Japanese Soy Paper Vs. Seaweed – A Comparison Guide

Soy Paper Vs. Seaweed – A Comparison Guide

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A selection of sushi top down

Sushi enthusiasts may already be familiar with nori, the seaweed paper used as a food wrap. Although not commonly seen at sushi restaurants, there are alternatives to nori, such as soy paper.

But how do they compare, and can they be used in the same way? We’ve created the ultimate comparison of soy paper and seaweed wrap to help you decide which is best for you. Let’s get started.

What’s the difference between soy paper and seaweed?

Soy paper is a delicate, thin wrapper with a neutral flavor and aroma. Made from soybeans, it can replace seaweed paper in sushi but is also useful for dessert wraps and spring rolls. Seaweed paper, or nori, is only used for sushi. The dark green sheets have a mild aroma and flavor of the sea.

 Soy PaperNori
DescriptionAn edible, soybean sheet made for wrapping various foodsAn edible, seaweed sheet made for wrapping sushi
FlavorFlavorless and odorlessMild flavor and aroma of the sea
AppearanceThin sheets available in a variety of colorsThin sheets always dark green
UsesSushi, spring rolls, dessertsSushi
Expiration3 weeks once opened if stored correctly2 weeks once opened if stored correctly
NutritionA healthy ingredient that’s lower in carbs but higher in calories than noriVery healthy and has higher counts of Omega-3, fiber, and magnesium
Where to buySpecialty Asian grocers or onlineAlmost any supermarket in the Asian section or online

Flavor

Soy paper has no flavor or aroma, so it’s a great option for picky eaters. It will also allow the other ingredients to be the hero of the plate. The paper’s texture is thin and flexible, a lot like rice paper rolls.

Seaweed paper has a subtle “fishy” smell and taste that some people don’t enjoy. Its texture is also thin, but it’s also a little crispy. Although not everyone enjoys ingredients from the sea, most lovers of sushi agree that seaweed is the best tasting casing for sushi.

Appearance

One of the benefits of using soy paper is that it comes in a range of colors including white, orange, green, yellow, and pink. Most brands use natural colors like turmeric to make yellow paper, paprika to make orange, and spinach to make green. Be sure to check the label though, if you don’t want artificial ingredients.

Nori is a dark green shade, which results from the use of the red algae genus Pyropia. If you want authentic-looking sushi, then this is what you’re best to use.

Culinary uses

Soybean and seaweed paper are both used for making sushi. They can roll up easily without breaking. Soybean paper has a few extra uses though, making a handy exterior for spring rolls and a type of “dumpling”. Thanks to its neutral flavor, you can also wrap sweet ingredients like fruit or even pudding in them.

Expiration

Unopened nori will last 1-2 years if stored unopened in a cool, dry place. Once opened, it will last up to 3 weeks stored in the pantry. Make sure to store in an airtight container as the seaweed quickly absorbs any moisture in the air.

Packaged soy paper should last a similar duration to nori if unopened. From our experience, we found it doesn’t last as long as seaweed paper once opened. Expect it to last up to 2 weeks, stored in a cool, dry position.

Nutrition

The macronutrients breakdown of seaweed and soy paper is similar. They are both healthy ingredients suitable for a plant-based or gluten-free diet.

Soy paper has a higher calorie count but is lower in carbs. The difference would only be significant if you eat a lot of sushi though.

Seaweed paper is a healthier choice overall. It has higher counts of Omega-3, fiber, iodine, and magnesium.

 Soy paper (per 5g serve)Yaki nori (per 5g serve)
Energy20kcal9kcal
Protein2g2g
Fat0.5g0g
Carbohydrates1g2g
Sodium25mg26mg
  • Typical ingredients in nori: Seaweed.
  • Typical ingredients in soy paper: Soybean protein, soy flour, vegetable glycerin, soybean oil, water, rice syrup.

Where to buy

Nori, or seaweed paper, is easy to find in most grocery stores. You’ll usually locate it in the Asian aisle. Otherwise, there is a wide range of online sellers.

Soy paper is harder to find in many parts of the world. You can try a specialty Asian grocer or search online.

Related reading:
What are some common types of sushi?
What are the best unagi sauce substitutes?
What are some tasty side dishes to serve with sushi?
Can you freeze sushi? Check out what our tests discovered.

Commonly asked questions

How do I make soy paper stick to the rice?

Although soy paper rice can be a challenge to work with at first, you’ll find that sushi rice makes life easier. A few drops of water on the edge of the soy paper combined with firm pressure should allow you to hold everything in place.

What can I use as a substitute for soybean paper?

If you don’t have soy paper, your best alternatives are nori or rice paper. Another useful vegetarian option is to thinly slice cucumber and use it to roll up your favorite fillings.

Summing up

Soy paper and seaweed paper are both healthy, gluten-free options for wrapping up sushi. If you enjoy authentic Japanese cuisine, then seaweed (nori) is a great choice.
You’ll find that soy paper is useful when dealing with picky sushi eaters as it has no smell or taste. It’s also more versatile, useful for other savory dishes and desserts.