Vegan, Vegetarian
Comments 13

You Can Make Chinese Takeaway Crispy Seaweed in Your House

I really wasn’t sure whether or not I wanted to tell you about this thing I’ve been doing lately, because I feel a little scandalous about it.

Just know from the off that this is not a healthy version of crispy seaweed, this is me doing everything I can to replicate crispy seaweed so that I can have a little taste of a Chinese takeaway without spending £20 on one meal out of desperation.

What I’m doing right now is trying to defend myself in advance, can you tell?

Cavalo Nero

I guess the most important thing to know is: I’m not using seaweed. I’m also not convinced that my local Chinese use seaweed either, but that’s another conversation for another day. I used cavalo nero. Not for any specific reason other than its availability in my house.

When chopped really fine, it crisps up beautifully in the pan. And that’s all I’m looking for in my crispy “seaweed”, something crispy and green with plenty of salt and sugar.

Here is where I suppose I have to tell you that I add sugar. A teaspoon of granulated sugar at the end of cooking. That’s what makes it taste like what I get from Swallow House, and I’m OK with that. I will dutifully accept the barrage of hatred that may be swung my way as a result.

Crispy Seaweed at Home

Now I’ve gotten that out of the way, I guess I can probably just get on and give you the recipe.

For one small portion (just scale up if you’re feeding more people or nursing a particularly hungry hangover)

3-4 leaves cavalo nero
pinch sea salt + granulated sugar

  1. Tear the leaves from their stalks, give them a rinse, lay them on top of each other and roll up like a cigar, tight as you can.
  2. With a serrated knife, slice as finely as possible – you want those spindly, crispy strands so slicing fine is essential.
  3. Heat about a tablespoon of oil (I used olive cause it’s what I had) in a non-stick frying pan and cook the cavalo nero on a medium heat. Keep it moving, and add the salt after a couple of minutes.
  4. Once you’ve reached optimum crispiness, sprinkle a little sugar in there, give it one last toss then serve.

I hope you don’t hate me for adding sugar to cabbage. Please don’t leave. Feel free to reassure me/cyber-stroke my hair and tell me its all OK in the comments.

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How to Make Chinese Takeaway Crispy Seaweed at Home


  1. Excellent recipe. We’ve been doing this for a while. Try it with kale, especially curly kale, too. It’s healthy, right?

  2. 100% no doubts, this is absolutely fine! Because crispy seaweed is amazing and it is sweet. Otherwise it wouldn’t be amazing. I was pretty sure they used cabbage too!

    • Kale almost definitely because it’s sturdy like cavalo nero and behaves really similarly when fried, although something like spinach I think would fail and wilt instead of crisp up. Have a play and do let me know how you get on!

  3. Anonymous says

    Im going to try it with coconut oil instead
    U reckon it will be the same? Im excited seaweed is my fav from any chinese resturant!! Thank you for this! X

    • Hmm.. it’ll taste very different because coconut oil can be so overpowering, but it should go just as crispy – do let me know how it turns out perhaps I’ll try it myself x

  4. I’m glad you made this post about the “algae” that is available as a starter in UK Chinese restaurants (nowhere else!) I specifically went to see the chef of a Chinese restaurant and asked what they use. He said he used lettuce. So I started to experiment. I made the recipe with lettuce, cabbage and yes, once we went to the beach and harvested a few thin green algae. Delicious!

    All turned out nice and crispy in coconut oil which I prefer. Don’t worry about using a bit of sugar as a condiment! (cyberstrokes hair!) The bad side of sugar is high amounts of it in soft drinks and everything that’s a mix of white flour, white sugar and cheap and nasty vegetable oil.

    So thanks for the tip, I will add a bit of sugar to my algae as well, especially when I use kale.

    • Lucy HW says

      I have two mini lettuce in my fridge currently waiting -some what wilted-some kind of use and I have been craving crispy seaweed so they might be victim to an experimental evening tommorow once our little boy is down for the night (fingers crossed) I think adding some sugar to home made ‘take away’ can only be better and def more cost effective than the real thing x

  5. Pingback: What Do Vegans Eat? | Veganuary Food Diary Week 1 | Cate in the Kitchen

  6. David Cook says

    This recipe works fine for me, I’d just add in a tiny bit of ginger and fennel too (if you don’t have any Chinese 5 spice to hand). Easier and quicker to make your own than drive out or order in to be honest. Particularly when you have some kale or cabbage in the garden (I live near the sea and never use seaweed, crispy seaweed is not actually seaweed anyway)……

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