Seaweed is a bit of a favourite ingredient of mine. I enjoy cooking with it and I enjoy the various things seaweed does for us. So when I was given a chance to review The Seaweed Cookbook by Xa Milne, I jumped at the chance. A whole book dedicated to sea vegetables.
A whole book on seaweed?
Yes! As co-founder of Mara Seaweed, Xa is passionate about her subject and her product. The first 37 pages are about seafood: where it’s found, how it’s harvested, what it is and why it’s good for us. The rest of the book is recipes, grouped in sections: dips, spreads, relishes and stocks; seaweed butters; seaweed salts, rubs and sauces; drinks and juices; soups and salads; small dishes and light bites; mains; puddings and sweet treats.
I knocked up a batch of dulse goat butter, spread it on baguette and flicked through the book. The recipes are interesting and diverse. Some are so simple that once you’ve read the name, you have the measure of it. (Dulse butter is like that: once you’ve got the idea, you wonder why you’ve never done it before.) Others are more complicated. The mains present a range of hearty and delicious dishes – the rare beef with salsa verde sounds great, as does the cardamom chicken thigh with lemon and dulse butter.
If you’re interested in seaweed and wonder how to cook with it – look no further. From beetroot seaweed hummus, through cheese shortbreads with dulse, to the sunshine smoothy, there’s something to try.
What did I cook?
The first things I tried were stocks: dashi and a vegetable stock. Both were easy and delicious. They both make good bases for noodles, soups or sauces and go well in a cup too. I’ve frozen some to have home-made stock easily available. I like the inclusion of sensible basics.
The basic tomato sauce with tomato, olives and dulse was lovely. It’s full of umami flavours: dulse, soy, mushrooms, olives and tomatoes meld together into a rich and soothing sauce. It’s easy to make and can be sized up or down. Next time, I’ll probably chop the olives up to get both the texture and more of the flavour.
I loved the raw chocolate brownies with dulse. They combine things that happen to be stock cupboard staples in my kitchen (almonds, walnuts, pecans, dates, rolled oats, almond butter and cocoa pwder) into a delicious date-bar. It’s chocolatey, oaty and deliciously nutty.
What will I cook next?
These are several other dishes I’m keen to try. First up is the seaweed sprinkle: furikake. I haven’t found any black sesame seeds (I’ve been to the wrong shops) or I would have made a batch already. I’ve bought Mara Seaweed Furikake and really liked it. I’m delighted by the thought of making my own and sprinkling it liberally on noodles and rice bowls.
The salsa verde with added umami is also on my list. I love salsa verde and like the idea of replacing the anchovy with something else from the sea. (Salsa verde and fried gnocchi. Yum!)
I’m keen to make the miso soup – and now I have dashi stock, I’m half-way there – as well as the dulse lentil burger. I’m looking for a good burger/patty recipe to add to my repertoir.
The Seaweed Cookbook – superfood recipes from the sea by Xa Milne
Published 25th August 2016