Ever since I was little I have been fortunate by living very close to the North Sea, only 5 minutes by bike and before you know it I'm walking barefoot through the surf. When the wind has blown inland over the sea, there is a good chance to find seaweed into the surf. It never occurred to me to take seaweed and have it for lunch. But seaweed has become an indispensable part of restaurants and the home kitchens. It's even super hip in Europe! What about that seaweed?
Seaweed or sea vegetables
During one of the interviews I had, there was talk about sea vegetables. That sounds much nicer, doesn't it? From that moment I suddenly got a lot more appetite for seaweed, so from now on we will only talk about sea vegetables.
What are sea vegetables anyway?
Wikipedia says: Sea vegetables is a collective name for a number of groups of algae that live in the sea or in brackish water. They are extremely strong, fertile and the most adaptable plant species that can withstand rough coastlines of all five world oceans. Did you know that most sea vegetables last one or two years?
Seaweed is very healthy!
The alga is an ideal meat substitute due to the large amount of iron and protein it contains. In addition, it does not harm nature, as seaweed is abundant and is therefore a sustainable alternative. However it is not a full-fledged meat substitute, because most sea vegetables do not contain vitamin B12.
There are many edible types of sea vegetables, the main groups are brown algae, red algae and green algae. I spoke to Gerda, she supplies us with six types of high quality sea vegetables; Wakame, Dulse, Kombu Royal, Nori, Ulva Lactea (sea lettuce) and Sea Bean (haricot de mer). Gerda has given me a little more knowledge about the types and harvest process of sea vegetables. These sea vegetables are harvested in the underwater world of Roscoff, a picturesque town on the west coast of France. They are purely natural products, because they come directly from the beautiful coastline and are not processed. In contrast to the nurseries where thickeners such as agar, alginate and carrageenan often are added.
Because it is a natural product, it can only be harvested in a few months, see the overview below. The vegetables are washed in not too salty seawater, followed by an assessment for checking the quality and then it is delivered directly to the customer.
Do all those sea vegetables taste like seawater?
That's my first thought when I think of sea vegetables, but nothing could be further from the truth. They are real delicacies, each with its own taste. Super healthy and you can vary endlessly with it.
Wakame has a soft and sweet taste and fine structure. The taste is often compared with the refined taste of oysters: you can taste the sea in this seaweed species. Wakame is mainly used in soups and salads.
The taste of dulse is described as full and smoky. The brown algae almost melts in the mouth; the bite is soft and tough. Dulse has also been compared to the taste of salty bacon when fried or roasted, making it a popular snack in Irish pubs.
- Kombu Royal
Royal Kombu is widely used in Asia as a flavour enhancer in dishes, and they call it Umami. It means "delicacy" in Japanese and it is the most natural flavour enhancer. It is the fifth taste after bitter, salty, sweet, and sour. Umami means that it makes all the other ingredients in a dish tastier. If you mix dark chocolate with some flakes of Royal Kombu, you will taste the dark chocolate even stronger. If you add the Royal Kombu to tomato sauce, you will taste the tomatoes stronger.
Dried nori is light brown and has a savory and slightly nutty flavour.
Due to its unique taste, nori can give a delicious twist to cream sauces, sandwiches, stews and even ice cream.
- Ulva Lactea (sea lettuce)
Sea lettuce is often used raw in salads. It is also extremely suitable as a seasoning for soups, but you can also stew, bake or even drink it as a tea! It has an almost nutty, salty-sweet spinach taste. Sea lettuce is quite stiff when dried, but when it has been soaked in water for a few minutes it is wonderfully soft. You can roast sea lettuce in the oven at 95 degrees and then sprinkle it over a dish or eat it as a snack.
- Sea bean (haricot de mer)
Sea bean should taste salty, but the taste is also described differently: salty, radish-like, crunchy and juicy. You can eat sea bean raw, lightly cooked (blanched) or quickly fried. You can serve it with some oil or butter, freshly ground pepper and some vinegar or lemon and you have a great addition to many dishes.
Next time I walk through the surf on the beach and the wind has blown inland, I no longer see seaweed, but sea vegetables. I will no longer walk around it, but feel, smell and maybe taste it myself (after it has been washed). Gosh, nature offers interesting and beautiful subjects to learn more about.
Are you interested in sea vegetables? Please contact us and ask for a sample.
Below you will find an impression of the coastline of Roscoff. The sea vegetables that you will find in our range come from this sea. Wow!