You probably like other pickles better...
Why pickle seaweed, of all things? Many things are easier to pickle, and they taste better. I like pickled beets, kohlrabi, dilly beans, corn, radishes, grapes, and even turnips, better than pickled seaweed. Pickled cauliflower, on the other hand, just tastes like raw veggies with vinegar. For some reason, they're not quite right.
All these pickles are delicious, and what most of them have in common is that they don’t remind me of anything else. They don’t take me anywhere except to the flavors I'm tasting. Are they good or are they bad? That’s all there is to consider.
If it's done right, pickled seaweed transports you to the sea. It takes you up Highway One on the kind of drive where you pull over near the cliffs every ten minutes because it’s just too amazingly beautiful to resist. It takes you back to the first time you went surfing or took a family vacation to the coast. Seaweed doesn’t taste like a vegetable; it tastes like the sea. It's the distilled essence of ocean and sand and abalone diving, and whisky passed around a late-night campfire on a beach on the Lost Coast. That’s why I make seaweed pickles.
I use bullwhip kelp, which is commonly found in this region. Seaweed provides many trace minerals you won’t get anywhere else. You can find bullwhip kelp on the beach after a storm. Bend it. If it snaps cleanly, it's fresh; if it bends, toss it. A fun way to source it fresh is to dive for it and cut it yourself. I usually grab some when I’m abalone diving. I've kept this recipe simple, in order to let the briny seaweed flavor shine through.
Here's what you’ll need.
Kelp (should be fresh, about 4 feet long, and at least 2 inches in diameter)
4 cups Champagne or white wine vinegar
½ cup sugar
8 cups water
(It would be cool to try this with seawater. If you try it, let me know how it turns out.)
2 containers for the pickles to live in
First, get your brine a boilin’. Mix the above ingredients and bring to a boil.
Rinse the seaweed with cold water. Cut off and reserve the blades (the feathery top parts), then peel the stipe.
Slice the stipe (long part) and the bulb (top part) into quarter-inch rings.
Place the reserved blades and seaweed rings in separate containers. Pour the hot pickling liquid over them.
Let them cool, then put them in the fridge. They'll be good for three months.
These pickles feature on our Seaside Charcuterie platter, along with a rotating cast of the following: Black cod brandade, pickled wild mussels, pickled mustard seeds, pickled herring, and fried smelt. Though we've been making use of the stipe for a few years, pickling the blade is a pretty recent discovery for us. They are amazingly good, with subtle sea flavor and great texture. The stipe has a more robust texture.
If you want to try ours check them out at this weekends Wild Kitchen:
Friday, August 14th
Saturday, August 15th
Enjoy! If you don’t dive for these, I hope, at the very least, you'll get your feet wet while collecting them.