Good Food Blog
Seaweed and eat itPosted at 11:15AM, 06 March 2008 by Jenni Muir - Food writer
On a recent trip to Penarth we enjoyed laverbread - a mixture of laver seaweed and oatmeal - as part of the cooked breakfasts at Holm House. (Those beautiful plates, by the way, are from Wedgwood's Painted Garden range.)
Although traditional in Wales, and something of a staple in the fishing communities of Scotland, seaweed is largely ignored by the rest of the UK, wouldn't you say?
When we do think of it, it tends to be in terms of Japanese cuisine. Last year, when London's Time Out Eating Guide asked its readers what is their favourite dish, sushi was the clear winner. Londoners, it seems, now think little of nibbling on nori, and the health benefits of seaweed are well-established, so why don't we eat more of the fresh stuff that surrounds the coast?
Has the time come for British "sea vegetables"?
Plenty of us happily collect blackberries and elderflowers in season, others forage for wild mushrooms. Nettles, chickweed and dandelions are the leaves du jour in several top-flight restaurants. Fashionable chefs love to be seen serving fish with samphire, which can now be bought in packs from organic supermarkets as well as fishmongers. Has the time come for British "sea vegetables"?
If you, like me, have no idea where to begin, there is an interesting new book called Seaweed and Eat It, which, despite the title, is about all sorts of foraging and puts the emphasis on it as a fun family activity. There are identification pictures, details on where and when to find each species, recipes, and advice on how to clean and preserve them.
As someone who grew up on the Australian coast, where the sight of seaweed meant we'd try and find a clearer place to swim, rather than get out the knives to collect supper, I was feeling foodily inadequate until the authors revealed that they were only turned on to collecting seaweed by a visit from a Japanese friend.
And while they heartily recommend dulse, they're a bit lukewarm on eating some of the other varieties. Sea lettuce looks very pretty, and I'm definitely going to try some milky carrageen (Irish moss) puddings, which were quite popular in Victorian times. With the current trend for all things British and organic, could they be so again? And would you be prepared to collect your ingredients from the sea rather than the supermarket?