On the right you can find some tasty recipes that will give you a good start in the world of seaweeds. Below there are general cooking guidelines that allow you to use seaweeds in pretty much any dish!
The recipes here are really just the tip of the ice berg. For many more recipes, ideas and information we highly recommend the bible of seaweed cooking, Prannie Rhatigan’s Irish Seaweed Kitchen.
How to cook with Seaweed
Kombu (a member of the Kelp family) is probably most well known for the unique effect it has on the taste buds, that which the Japanese call Umami and what we know in the west as our fifth flavour or simply savoury.
Kombu is a very versatile sea green (brown!) which adds vitamins and minerals to any dish. It is used to make broths and serves as a base ingredient in stocks (such as dashi for miso soup).
It has a special use for cooking dried beans or pulses. When adding a strip of Kombu to the cooking process, it helps make beans much more digestible by breaking down the enzymes that cause the gassy feeling when eating beans. It also adds a subtle background flavour, by some described as tasting slightly bacony.
Add a 20 cm strip of Kombu to 1L stock, then simmer for at least 1hr depending on strength or flavour desired. The Kombu can then either be removed or snipped into bits and returned to the broth. I love the broth on its own with a sarnie or as a base for miso soup.
Oh, and don’t forget to try Kelp Crisps. They are the perfect (and healthy!) company to beer or whiskey.
Sea spaghetti has been used for centuries all over the world in coastal communities to act as both a rich carrier of vital nutrients and to bring its unique shape, texture and gently sweet flavour to the plate.
It has been termed ‘Spaghetti del Mar’ for its looks and easy use as a substitute for pasta, but it is probably best treated simply as a vegetable in anything from stews, soups, casseroles, salads, omelettes, stir-fries, as a bed for a fish dish or deep-fried in batter or on its own and drizzled with lemon.
You can just eat it raw. Straight from the bag in dried form it tastes surprisingly like biltong (beef jerky, so quite salty) and has that same awesome chewy texture.
If you soak it for about 30 minutes it will swell up to 5 times its size and weight, and turns a deep earthy green. It becomes soft with a slightly crunchy texture. Lovely in salads, or to add to rice dishes such as risotto or curries after cooking.
BOIL & STEAM
Boil it together with your ordinary spaghetti for 5-15 minutes, or instead of! Like spaghetti, it gets softer the longer you boil it. Alternatively, steam it for 20-35 minutes until tender.
When steamed, it remains firmer than when cooked.
To stir fry, first soak it in tepid or cold water for up to 30 minutes until it has increased in size and becomes soft. Cut it in chunks and stir fry it for 5-10 minutes on medium heat.
Soak in water for 15 minutes and deep fry it until crisp, which will take a few seconds, so keep an eye on it!
This sea salad is a mix of Dulse, Sea Lettuce, Nori and Mermaid’s hair and can simply be ground in dry form to make a fab seasoning mix for a wide range of dishes from buttered new potatoes, steamed asparagus, salads, eggs or sandwiches. It can be eaten raw when rehydrated for 20 minutes and snipped onto salads, noodles or pasta dishes.
Alternatively, it can be added to any stew, soup or casserole to be cooked as a veg for added flavour and a huge vitamin and mineral kick!
The sea salad is a good option for those looking for a variety of flavours and colours, a simple but nutritious condiment, a salt alternative or an easy intro to cooking with seaweeds. I like to rehydrate it in a little water and snip onto salad and crackers for a light snack or side to any dish: light, easy and super filled with goodness!
It hardly adds flavour (you can detect it though, somewhere somehow every so slightly) and can be used to thicken stews, soups and sauces, and is THE vegan alternative to gelatine or a healthy alternative to corn starch. Indeed, it is used to set any liquids to make desserts such as jellies, puddings and pannacottas.
Very little Irish Moss is actually needed to set a good amount of liquid to a solid (such as the milk for pannacotta/Irish moss pudding). 10 grams (a handful) is usually enough to set a pudding using 800gr milk.
Simply rinse the Irish Moss thoroughly to rid it of salt, sand and sea creatures that might have gotten stuck in it in cold water.
The setting agent (carrageenan) is extracted from the seaweed by boiling it for about 30 minutes and then pushing it through a sieve to extract as much of it as possible. The remaining pieces can be left in the pudding but if you prefer to take these out that is ok. They do give a nice texture but then, some people prefer orange juice without the bits!
You should know that the setting takes place when the liquid cools down, so don’t be upset(!) if after 30 minutes your pudding still looks like warm milk!
To thicken sauces, stews or soups that do not need setting, simply use less Irish Moss or allow to boil for a shorter period.