recipe

Edible seaweeds

Kombu Seaweed: The Umami Superfood!

 

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Sure, when it’s in the sea it might not look very appetizing, but several types of seaweed are delicious when prepared properly. Not only that, but seaweed is packed with nutrients. Take the edible kelp known as kombu, for example. Kombu can be found right off the coast, and there are literally kelp forests packed full of it. Kombu is known for its ability to improve digestion. Packed with amino acids and glutamic acid, eating kombu helps your body break down foods easier and minimizes both intestinal gas and discomfort.

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Sea vegetables like kombu may also help prevent cancer, thanks to their anti-inflammatory benefits. Kombu contains iron, which is a vital mineral for healthy cells, hair, nails, skin, and more. It’s common for people to have an iron-deficient diet, which leads to fatigue and other anemic symptoms. Adding kombu into your diet is a great way to ensure that you’re getting enough.


Kombu is actually the highest in iodine out of all edible seaweeds. In fact, it’s one of the most iodine-rich foods out there. Why is this important? Well, iodine improves thyroid function and is an essential mineral for healthy hormone production. Our bodies do not naturally produce iodine, meaning it’s essential to eat iodine-rich foods like kombu in order to maintain a healthy thyroid.

Lastly, kombu contains a sulfated polysaccharide known as fucoidan, which has been proven to stave off cell inflammation. Therefore, researchers suggest that eating kombu may be a possible treatment for the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. And we haven’t even mentioned all of the vitamins, calcium, and proteins that are found in seaweed! Now that you know all about why you should eat kombu, let’s go over a delicious recipe for you to enjoy.

 

Kombu Dashi (Stock):

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•   Wipe down the surface of kombu, but DO NOT rinse with water (which washes away the umami flavor)

•   Place the kombu into a pot of water (use around 5g of kombu per 500 ml of water)

•   Put on medium heat

•   Take kombu out right before the water begins to boil and enjoy the dashi!

Kombu is famous for its umami flavor, and it is used in Japan to make dashi, which is a soup that can also be used as cooking stock. Dashi is actually the base for many Japanese dishes, including miso soup. While several kinds of seaweeds can be used to make dashi, kombu is one of the tastiest and healthiest choices.

Once you’ve made your kombu dashi, you can store it in your fridge and heat it up when you’re in the mood for some delicious hot soup. Or, you can use it as stock to cook with. It’s an excellent stock alternative for vegetarians. Plus, its unique umami flavor is fun to experiment with and can really open up your cooking options.

 Of course, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy the taste and health benefits of kombu than dashi. Kombu can be dried, made into powder, and pickled. It’s even eaten as sashimi in Japan. So, pick up some kombu today and start enjoying its health benefits and unique flavor!

Ready to get out there and collect your own? Our Seaweed Adventures on the Sonoma coast are great for the beginner or veteran forager. Click below for dates and see you on the beach!

Recipes

Wild Blackberry Stuffing Recipe

A Wild Stuffing for Thanksgiving

 

While it’s true that there are not too many wild edibles to forage for in late November, even in California (sea beans are past their prime and stringy and miner’s lettuce is definitely past its prime), with a bit of forethought you can bring some of the taste of the summer to your Thanksgiving table. Freezers have made it possible for us to take some of the bounty of the warm season and preserve it for the cooler months.

Preparing a unique stuffing for your Thanksgiving turkey can include blackberries that you harvested during the summer and then froze for later use. Although this stuffing recipe is prepared mostly on the stovetop, I would suggest popping it into the oven for the last 15 or 20 minutes of your turkey’s cooking time, to make sure it’s good and hot and to infuse some of the turkey flavor into it. Try this snappy recipe to give family and friends a real treat on Thanksgiving.

Wild Rice and Wild Blackberry Stuffing: Everyone who loves the distinctive flavor of wild rice will love this stuffing. And, although you will be cooking the stuffing next to your turkey in the last states of the process, you can always dribble a bit of the pan drippings over the stuffing to not only help keep it moist, but also to add a bit of turkey flavor, too. This recipe will provide enough stuffing for about 6 people.

·      ½ cup of wild rice

·      ½ cup spelt

·      ½ cup thawed wild blackberries

·      1 cup chopped pecans

·      1 cup diced carrots

·      1 cup diced onion

·      1 cup diced celery

·      2 garlic cloves, grated

·      ¾ cup chopped parsley

·      1 tablespoon chopped sage

·      2 tablespoons olive oil

·      2 tablespoon water

·      ¼ teaspoon pepper

·      ½ teaspoon salt

Place wild rice and spelt into a large pot and cover with water – make sure there is at least 3” of water over the grains. Bring the pot to a boil, simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, then turn off heat, cover, and allow the pot to sit for 1 hour. After the grains have expanded, drain and set aside.

While the rice and spelt were sitting, you should be getting the other ingredients ready.

Spread the chopped pecans over a baking sheet and give them 10 minutes in the oven at 325 F.

Sauté the vegetables in the olive oil in a medium saucepan about 5 minutes, then cover the pan and allow the vegetables to cook for another 10 minutes until they are tender.

Add the rice and spelt to the vegetables, along with the salt and pepper. Just before putting into a baking dish, carefully mix the blackberries.

Put everything into a baking dish and stick it into the oven next to your nearly done turkey. Make sure to use the pan drippings from the turkey pan to add flavor and moisture to your wild stuffing.

Once the turkey and the stuffing are out of the oven and on the table – enjoy. This is a different approach to the traditional stuffing most of us are used to, but will add a new dimension and taste treat to this beloved holiday, and is undoubtedly one of which the Pilgrims would heartily approve.

 

Edible seaweeds

Where to Harvest Seaweed and How to Eat It

Where to Harvest Seaweed and How to Eat It

 

 

Most of us never give a thought to using seaweed as a food, but it’s actually one of nature’s most nutritious edibles, and is usually easily available to anyone who lives near the coast. Seaweed is actually an alga, writ large, and many species are found in abundance along most marine shores, either attached to the substrate or washed up onto the beach. The Japanese have been eating seaweed, in various forms, for centuries, but North Americans are now beginning to use this bounty as well.

For those who wish to forage for seaweed, it’s important to check local regulations before beginning. You should also make sure that the area you are planning to use for your harvest has clean water, and is far from any sources of pollution. In most cases, you will be allowed to harvest 10 pounds of wet seaweed for your personal use. Seaweeds can be brown, red, purple, or green in coloration. Avoid fresh water seaweeds as they are often poisonous; stick to marine seaweed.

 

Edible Seaweeds of the West Coast

Seaweed can be found growing from the ocean floor, or can be attached to rocks.  Low tide is the best time to reach the plants connected to rocks. Unlike vascular plants, seaweeds do not have roots, they have holdfasts instead. Although almost anywhere along the coast will probably have seaweed, tide pools are a great place to find this edible, but you must pay attention to the tides when going out to harvest seaweed.

In addition to a pair of waterproof gloves and a collection bucket, you will need a sharp knife. When harvesting seaweed, it is important not to pull the seaweed off the rock or ocean floor, doing this will destroy the holdfast. By using a sharp knife to cut well above the holdfast, in this way you will ensure that the seaweed will regrow in time. Some of the best edible seaweeds include:

·      Nori is one of the most delicious of the local edible seaweeds. Identify it by its dark green color and it can be found attached to rocks in the intertidal zone. 

·      Giant Kelp is usually found in dense beds, and is one of the fastest growing plants. Herring often lay their eggs on kelp fronds, and in some locales, it is illegal to harvest kelp containing eggs.

·      Sea Lettuce looks almost exactly like the lettuce you may grow in your garden.

·      Purple Laver grows on coastal rocks, and while the blades of this seaweed can be over 3 feet wide, they are only several cells thick.

·      Alaria fistulosa is another edible member of the kelp family, and the fronds can reach 100 feet in length.


Seaweed Classes: Learn How To Harvest and Eat Seaweed on the California Coast


Seaweeds are a great source of vitamins and minerals and some of them are also surprisingly high in protein. Seaweeds contain iodine, iron, chromium, calcium, potassium, and manganese, among other minerals. Most seaweed is dried before being used, and can be hung from a line or spread on a clean cloth or plastic sheet to do so. The drying seaweed should be turned every hour to speed drying.

 

How to Eat Edible Seaweed 

Edible seaweed can be eaten raw, or used in cooked recipes. Adding either fresh or dried seaweed to your cuisine can add flavor, body, and extra nutrition.

·      Seaweed can be used in soups either as a major component, or as a thickener – dried seaweed is particularly valuable as a thickener.

·      Salads do not have to consist mainly of lettuce, Sea Lettuce or Purple Laver are good for this.

·      Alaria can be cooked just as you would any green leafy vegetable from your garden, and is great with butter and a sprinkle of salt.

·      Either dried or fresh fronds or blades can be used as wraps in a number of recipes. Nearly any recipe that calls for a cabbage or corn husk wrap can use seaweed as a substitute.

·      Dried seaweed fronds can also be broken up into chip-sized pieces and used as a snack food; they are naturally salty and are low in calories.

In addition to the uses both dried and fresh seaweed have in the kitchen, these macroalgae have another advantage if you harvest them yourself; they are free. Respect the area where you are harvesting seaweeds and cut carefully when you do gather so that the plant can regrow again.

 

 

 

Edible seaweeds

Bullwhip Pickle Recipe...

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.
 
Food:
 
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.)
 
Gear:
 
Peeler
Medium pot
2 containers for the pickles to live in
 

  1. First, get your brine a boilin’. Mix the above ingredients and bring to a boil.

  2. Rinse the seaweed with cold water. Cut off and reserve the blades (the feathery top parts), then peel the stipe.

  3. Slice the stipe (long part) and the bulb (top part) into quarter-inch rings.

  4. Place the reserved blades and seaweed rings in separate containers. Pour the hot pickling liquid over them.

  5. 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:
Tickets here:
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.

Recipes

Nettle Is Great...Wild Nettle Soup Recipe

Nettle is great. Its all around, good for you, plus there’s the element of danger when you’re harvesting. It’s like collecting sea urchins. Will it get you? Are those gloves really thick enough to ward off those spiny stems? A question Ive been forced to answer in the negative far too many times.  For those of you that like a bit of danger with your foraging, but aren’t quite up for wild mushroom collecting or boar hunting, the nettle is a good bet.

There are two kinds of nettle that grow in our area (that area being Northern CA).Urtica diocea, which is also known as river nettle, and Urtica urens, which I call farm nettle, its more often cultivated, and much less intense, cousin.  River nettle is what grows most often in the wild, so that’s what I end up using most of the time. You find it often growing in stream beds and in other moist nutrient rich environments. “Farm Nettle” can also be found wild, although much less often, in what are referred to as “disturbed places”.  Areas where the earth has just been upset for some reason (hint: there’s some in Golden Gate park if you know where to look).

River nettle (diocea) is much more intense than in both sting and flavor. Whereas farm (urens) will give you a bit of a prick to let you know its nettle, river nettle will bite you, a searing pain that, instead of going away after several hours of throbbing, actually seems to turn into a general numbness/tingle for as much as 48 hours (hint: use vinegar to get rid of the sting, or if you’re near a marsh, the goo from the base of cattails works too). If you’re using it in soup, river nettles are really the best.  The intensity comes through in the soup in all the best ways.

With that said, lets get on with it. Go collect some! I wont tell you my spots, but I will tell you that they like to grow in moist, nutrient rich soils.  Try to harvest them before the plant has gone to seed.  As in all plants, you want to collect them when they’re putting the most amount of energy into the part you want to eat…perhaps confusing, but a good principle. When plants are flowering, eat the flower, when they’re shooting up out of the ground in spring, eat the shoot, when they’ve gone to seed, eat the seed (although I havnt heard of people eating nettle seed, I don’t see why not). Enough talk, on to the recipe.

This soup is a real standby for The Wild Kitchen (my underground restaurant).  People love it, so it keeps coming back from month to month while nettle is in season.

You’ll need:

Food:

-1 lb nettle (collect it, or you can often find it at farmers markets in season)

-1 lb russet potatoes

-1 lb leek

-6 Cups chicken stock

-2 Tbsp butter

-Salt/pepper to taste

-Small tub crème fraiche

Equipment:

-Heavy gloves (seriously. If you’re using the thin latex kind, so popular in restaurant kitchens and the nether regions of the airport security line,  wear double, or even triple.  A good thick pair of dishwashing gloves works perfectly)

-Heavy bottomed soup pot

-Stand up or hand (immersion) blender

-Wooden spoon

-Scissors

-mixing bowl

1.First, you’ve got to deal with the nettle.  Put a pot of salted water on to boil. With your gloves on, use scissors to cut the leaves from the woody stem, discarding any brown leaves. Wash under cold water.  Get a mixing bowl, and fill it with iced and salted water. Throw nettle into boiling water for 5 minutes, drain, then immediately place in ice water. This is called blanching and shocking. The boil gets rid of the nettle sting, and the ice water helps it retain its vibrant green color. Once they’re cold, squeeze water out of nettles, and reserve.

2. Cut off the white section of the leeks, slice them lengthwise, and wash very well. Tons of dirt likes to get stuck in leeks, and it’s the last thing you want in your soup. After they’re clean, chop them and reserve.

3.  Dice potatoes.

4. Melt butter in pot over medium heat, making sure not to let it burn. When it begins to bubble, throw in the leeks, cook 5 minutes (if they start to brown, turn down the flame, you want them to sweat).  Add potatoes, cook 5 minutes. Add nettle, cook 5 minutes.

5. Pour in chicken stock, mix, turn up heat until it comes to a boil, then turn down to a simmer.

6. Allow to simmer 20-30 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Turn off heat and either blend with you immersion blender, or if using a stand-up, blend in batches with a ventilated blender (take that little plastic thing out of the middle of the lid), and a towel on top. With the danger sounding too much like you dad, BE CAREFUL!. Hot soup on the face is not fun.

7. When its blended, add two spoonsfulls of crème fraiche, mix. Serve hot with a drizzle of crème fraiche on top. This soup will taste quite “green”.  Crème fraiche will balance it to your liking.

8. Enjoy! And regal your friends with your daring tales of nettle foraging, they’ll be impressed.