Awareness of edible seaweeds is growing here in the UK and we can understand why. They’re an extraordinarily potent source of minerals and a delicious addition to the plate. Try them raw, dried into snacks, stir-fried, noodled, thrown into salads and soups, and even fermented. This extremely versatile sea vegetables are a delight to consume and can do a world of good if eaten regularly.
There are up to 20 edible varieties native to the UK coastal waters and the clever folk at Fore / Adventure have a great depth of knowledge to share on the subject.
Over to you, Jade & Dan…
One of our all time foodie treats is seaweed and we eat so much of it we have renamed it one of our five a day! So we thought we would spread the seaweed love and share with you our guide to a few of our faves…
Pepper dulse, Osmundea pinnatifida
You can find pepper dulse growing in layers on rocks in intertidal zones. Again it’s not a commonly eaten seaweed but in small quantities it is a real treat with a unique salty, peppery flavour. Throw it into fish dishes as a seasoning or on top a salad to give it a powerful peppery taste. In Scotland it used to be gathered and dried as a substitute for pepper. In fact, it’s still a key ingredient in some traditional Highland soups and dishes.
Saw toothed wrack, Fucus serratus
Saw toothed wrack grows in heavy bunches on the lower shore, just above the low water mark on sheltered, rocky shores. It is not usually used as a food, as it is often harvested for use in cosmetics, but just like its cousin the bladderwrack it makes a great tea or Japanese noodle soup. You can also use it to add flavour to a stew or to sauté your fish over (see method, below left). Alternatively, you can dry it, grind it down to a powder and use it as a salty condiment.
Gutweed, Ulva intestinalis
This is a great seaweed to start with, because if you get it wrong, you’re not going to make yourself ill. It’s like the wild garlic of the seaweed world. You can find this green stringy seaweed in rock pools and salt marshes and it’s easy to spot because it has a passing resemblance to intestines, hence the name. You can bake it into bread or throw it into omelettes, but I like to trick my children into eating it by sneaking some into a stir fry or fajitas. Just chuck it in for the last 30 seconds of cooking.
Bladderwrack, Fucus vesiculosus
You’ll find this in shallow rocky areas. You can use the young tips to make a salad or lightly steam them as a side vegetable. For the ultimate seaweedy taste, you can sauté your fish over them. Simply place them in the bottom of a heavy bottomed pan with some butter and cook your fish on top. The oil is also good for gnarly old sea hands. If you pop the bubbles and rub it into your hands, it’ll moisturise your skin a treat.
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[Source: bladderwrack photo = Wikimedia Commons]