Over a year ago I experimented with laser-cutting nori, the dried seaweed paper used commonly in making rolled sushi. Because nori is flat, thin and dry, it cuts extremely well with a laser and I was able to get extraordinarily high-resolution cutouts. Because I didn’t always have access to the laser, I wanted to find a way to keep producing cut nori at home – and I found one. The QuicKutz Silhouette SD Digital Craft Cutting Tool ($199) is a computer-controlled craft cutter designed for cutting paper and light cardstock. It works by moving the material backwards and forwards while moving a very sharp blade side to side (and up and down). Although the nori was too brittle to handle intricate cutting on the Silhouette, I was still able to successfully cut a few dozen different patterns. If you want to experiment with this technique at home, a craft cutter is the way to go.
The picture at the top is (what I’m calling) Butterfly Shrimp. It’s wholly impractical, a little ridiculous, and really funny. I’ve also created an edible butterfly using wasabi as the body, with two wings skewered in.
The next images are of the most intricate pattern I attempted to laser-cut. It’s an amalgamation of traditional Japanese stencil designs. I think of this nori sheet as a kind of edible doily… a garnish that is ornate to the highest degree. It casts cool shadows, too.
The same sheet, folded on itself. Wouldn’t that make beautiful sushi? (click for many more photos…)