Several friends have mentioned their love of seaweed recently – one vegetarian loves it for its delicious taste of the sea without compromising his principles! I love eating samphire, and am keen to try cooking with seaweed. So I thought I’d start by getting in touch with Iain McKellar of Just Seaweed to find out more about this overlooked ingredient.
Iain lives on the Isle of Bute. He explains “The Isle of Bute and the sea inspire me. I set up Just Seaweed so I could stay on this wonderful island. It’s wonderful to be able to make a living from the shore and work with nature.
Seaweed is only as clean and pure as the location it’s harvested from. The Isle of Bute, is just such a place. The fast-flowing currents of seawater rush into the North End of Bute twice a day from the deep waters of the sound of Arran. It is prime seaweed country”.
Seaweed is very good for you. It is packed with vitamins and minerals: A, B, B12, C, E, K, iron iodine and 60 trace elements. It takes just a couple of minutes to prepare. Isn’t this Oarweed kelp Beautiful?
Iain harvests the seaweed by hand at low tide. There are no special tools, he simply uses a clam shell and chooses the very best by checking each plant very carefully. Even two seaweeds side by side can be of a completely different age or length. They are easily wave damaged too.
Iain snorkel dives for some types of seaweed such as sugar and, broad kelp, sea lettuce, dulce and carageen. For others, such as different types of wrack he uses waders.
The depth at which the seaweed grows varies by type. Some spend most of their time out of the water, others stay submerged most of the time.
Iain started selling direct to the public through shows such as the BBC food show (courtesy of Loch Fyne Oysters). This year looks as if it will be his best yet! He is now supplying some of the UK’s top restaurants including Simon Rogan at l’Enclume, Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley and Incanto. To celebrate this success, Iain is hoping to take his first family holiday in 4 years!
If you’d like to try more, I recommend ordering online. I’ll be experimenting and blogging about the results in the future. Do check out the all the comprehensive information on Iain’s site in the meantime and check out some of the seaweed recipes on the BBC food site.