Isn’t it odd that we associate eating seaweed with Asian cuisine? After all, we have actually used it in this country for centuries, in fact since prehistoric times. It’s time to change that. When you need a savoury, salty touch use seaweed!
I’ve been trying out some samples from Mara Seaweed which arrived with some suggested recipes. These served as inspiration for the two recipes that follow. The first is a soup which simple to make and can be adapted to what you have at hand. The second is bread which is more time consuming – but the results are so tasty! Mara Seaweed are determined to bring seaweed to a wider audience. They have teamed up with Otter Ferry Sea Fish and Scottish Association of Marine Science and is one of 11 groups to win a share of £4 million innovation funding from the UK Government. This will see the team develop seaweed farming facilities to harvest seasonal seaweeds around the Scottish coastline. It already has a license from the Crown Estate to gather seaweed. In 2010 the global market for cultivated seaweed business that was estimated to be worth US$12 billion. Scotland is well-positioned to meet this global demand with its extensive experience of aquaculture and its unique and varied coastline. Should we think of it as a salt substitute? It has far less sodium than standard salt, but also benefits from a rich range of minerals, vitamins and trace elements. It has a subtlety all of its own. I suggest using it in the same way we might add a dash of soy or mirin to enhance the flavours.
Vegetable Soup with Seaweed
- 2 large beetroots, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 large parsnip, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- ½ chili (optional)
- 1 tsp mustard seed
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- 2 teaspoons kombu (or to taste)
- Black pepper
- Oil for cooking
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan or pressure cooker.
- Add the mustard seed and let it pop.
- Add the onion, chili and garlic and cook until softened, but not browned.
- Add all the vegetables and mix well.
- Add 500 ml water and bring to the boil. Cook for 10 minutes in the pressure cooker following your model's instructions or cook until all vegetables are soft.
- Liquidise the mixture adding enough additional water to make a smooth not too gloopy puree.
- Now add seasoning. Add 2 teaspoons of kombu to start with and a good pinch of black pepper.
- Serve with freshly baked bread.
Multiseed Bread with Seaweed Recipe
- For the soaker
- 60 gr Oats
- 60 gr Sunflower seeds
- 60 gr Flax seeds
- 60 gr Sesame seeds
- 150 ml water
- For the dough
- 500 gr strong white bread flour
- 100 gr of rye or spelt flour
- 20 gr Mara Shony or similar
- 15 gr fresh yeast or 1 tsp dried yeast
- 300 gr water
- Kenwood mixer or similar
- Heavy metal tray or bread tins
- Linen tea towel
- Place all the ingredient for the soaker in a bowl and cover with the water. Leave for at least 4 hours.
- Place the flour and yeast into the bowl of the mixer. Rub the fresh yeast into the flour. If using dried yeast follow the instructions on the packet (it varies) and use some of the water to premix if necessary.
- Add the seaweed and the soaked grains and seeds.
- Add about half the water and mix on the lowest speed. When roughly mixed add a further quarter of the water.
- You'll then need to decide if you need a little more water. You're looking for a soft, not sloppy dough, definitely not stiff.
- Mix on medium speed for 3 minutes to develop the gluten. The dough should be smooth and elastic.
- Place in a well-oiled plastic box with a lid and leave 1 hour.
- Gently fold the dough by turning in each corner. Leave for a further hour.
- Cut the dough into two pieces and shape. Do this by gently flattening each piece of dough then folding into three. Turn and turn in the two smaller ends. Either place on a very well floured cloth for 30 minutes or place in tins.
- Pre-heat the oven to 225°C. Place a bowl of water in the bottom of the oven to provide some steam.
- After 30 minutes place the bread in the oven and turn down to 200°C Bake for 30-35 minutes.
Find out more
Fiona Houston and Alexandra (Xa) Milne founded Mara Seaweed, based in Edinburgh, in 2011 after researching all aspects of seasonal native seaweeds for their 2008 book Seaweed and eat it. You can purchase Mara Seaweed online or at a growing number of independent stores – it’s even stocked in Harrods. The Mara Seaweed website has loads of fascinating and useful information. I also found LouAnn Conner’s post on Oyster Food and Culture very informative.