wild seaweed

Edible seaweeds

Bullwhip Kelp: The Seaweed You Can Pickle!

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When you think of foraging for edible native plants in California, seaweed probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. However, the truth is that California’s coast has several tasty and healthy types of seaweed that can be easily harvested. Bullwhip kelp, for example, is high in protein and dietary fiber and contains nutrients like potassium, magnesium, iodine, and more. You can usually find it washed up on the beach after a big storm. To tell if its fresh, pick it up and bend it, if it snaps, its good to eat, if not, keep looking. It can be harvested in both the spring and the summer.

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Bring a knife and plastic or mesh bag, so you can cut the choicest bits. Both the stipe (stalk), and blades (flowing fronds on the top), can be eaten. For the stipe you’ll want to peel off the outer layer, I find a regular veggie peeler does the trick.


That’s one of the great things about harvesting seaweed — once you find some, you find a lot. Therefore, keep your eyes peeled for seaweed on the surface of the water so you know where to begin harvesting.

It’s best to collect in areas that seem clean and do not have a lot of pollutants. Since bullwhip kelp forests are so dense, it’s easy to take far more than you can use. Plus, you’ll need to process the bullwhip kelp within the first day or two of harvest, so make sure you’re ready to prepare it right away to limit waste. When choosing which kelp to harvest, beware of any white spots, beaten up edges, or if the texture is not smooth to the touch. These attributes indicate that the kelp is too old for good eating.

 Bullwhip kelp is an interesting seaweed with bulbs, stipes (stems), and blades (leaves). Each part can be eaten. The bulbs and stipes, for example, can be pickled, while the blades can be dried into chips and added to soups and other meals.

Pickled Bullwhip Kelp Recipe:

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Kelp stipes

Kelp bulbs

Cayenne peppers

Garlic

Fresh dill

Pickling spices

2 quarts of apple cider vinegar

3 quarts of water

1/4 cup of pickling salt

1/4 alum or grape leaves

If the kelp looks like it should be rinsed off before you start, make sure you do it with sea water rather than fresh water if you can. but fresh is fine too.. First peel the outer layer off the stipe with your veggie peeler, and cut the bulbs and stipes into roughly ¼ inch pieces. Place the desired amount in a mason jar and add a clove of garlic, cayenne pepper, and a sprig of dill in there with it. 

Next, heat up the vinegar, water, alum/grape leaves, and pickling salt. Once it starts to boil, pour the brine into the mason jars. Sanitize the lid, and then put the cap on and wait for it to pickle!

Pickled kelp is both delicious and versatile. You can basically use it anytime you would use a pickle. Whether you put it in sandwiches, make your own relish, or eat it on its own, there are plenty of ways to enjoy pickled bullwhip kelp. Once you add this nutritious seaweed to your diet, you’ll likely make foraging on the coast a fun part of your spring and summer routine.

Ready to get out there and collect your own seaweed? We’ll take you up the coast to collect all the seaweed you can carry (10 lbs is the limit, which is A TON). Click below to see our current dates:



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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, wild kitchen

Fish Soup and Climbing Cezanne's Mountain

My girlfriend Valerie and I just got back from a month long trip to Europe – a land of delicious cheese and keyboards that make typing an inconceivable chore (I mean really, who would design a keyboard where you have to hit alt, command, shift, and 4 to get an @ symbol?).  But, despite their lack of tech design genius (or perhaps in spite of it), I had a great time.

  • Climbed Sainte-Victoire, the 3,000 ft. mountain that inspired Cezanne for three hours hours one foggy night. White glistening rocks, 500 ft. drop-offs, and heavy packs illuminated by head lamps.  At one point we tied ourselves together with a scarf just in case one of us was to fall.  It was worth it to camp in a church at the top of the mountain;  to drink, play music, and cook raclette in the fireplace.
  • Rented the most French apartment I’ve ever seen, complete with a tiny kitchen and the full works of Edith Piaf.
  • Ran from tear gas in Lyon as French students fought with the riot police.  It exposed us to the French peoples’ distaste for work (the retirement age was recently pushed from 60 to 62, spurring riots that shut down highways, gas stations, airports, and trains).
  • Slept in the 2 ft.wide-wide hallway of an overnight train to Alba, Italy, waking up alternately by gesticulating Genovese and grandmothers that seemed to have packed for the apocalypse.
  • Bought our first true European truffle, and tried it on everything from mac and cheese to pizza to omelettes to pasta with béchamel (which I liked so much that I made it at the last Underground Market).
  • Stood under the Eiffel Tower as it began to flash, and realized how much it seems like a spaceship from that angle.
  • Harvested olives in Tuscany until I caught the flu, and walked leisurely like old people through the streets of Tarquenia, stopping at each shop to admire the full legs of procuitto.  It was amazing to see them hand slice that stuff, pure artists).

The one thing I didn’t do was update my blog, but I did write (on real paper no less) and will try to post some of it here very soon. For now, I’m happy to be back and getting into the swing of things again.

The first order of duty was to organize two Wild Kitchen dinners, each featuring nine of my favorites dishes from Europe, with a forageSF twist.  One of my favorite courses of the night was soup de poisson avec aioli maison de nori sauvage.  This dish was inspired by a meal we had in Cassis (a small town in the south of France, from which the crème de’ gets its name).  It was exactly what I’d been looking for since I got to Europe:  a good meal, perfectly cooked, served simply.

Soupe de poisson is essentially a very flavorful fish stock, served with crostini, spicy aioli, and cheese.  The secret is to get an intense rich flavor of seafood and spice.  Rather than being “fishy,” it was more of round and full profile.  I first imagined was just a reduction of fish stock, with the flavor concentrated by long cooking, but as we worked we discovered it needed more to get it just right.

First we experimented with a simple fish stock, which is nothing more than halibut bones, garlic, carrot, onion, celery, and bay leaf.  After cooking for an hour we reduced the liquid by more than half.  This gave us a good flavor, but it wasn’t what I was looking for.  It tasted like fish, but didn’t have that same richness.  We finally found it by adding reduced chicken stock, brandy, oyster liquor and crab “goodies.” If you don’t have those, the stock will still be good, but the fullness they add to the flavor is worth the extra work.

To top it off I made an aioli of wild nori and Sriracha.  Nori is a seaweed I collect locally; its similar to the seaweed used to wrap sushi and our local variety grows abundantly up and down the coast.  We put the aioli on crostini, added a side of mozzarella cheese, and that was it.  A really simple course that was the most popular dish of the night.

Wild Nori Aioli

If you’ve ever made aioli before, it’s the same process, but with addition of chopped nori and Sriracha towards the end. The nori really gives a great layer to the flavor and eating seaweed always makes me feel good. I used nori that I collected during the mid summer when it’s at its peak, and preserved it by cleaning and drying it out. You should try your hand at it too, nori is a great thing to have around to put in soups, and in this case, aioli.

-2 egg yolks

-1 qt. blend oil (a blend of olive and canola) or canola oil

(Pure olive oil has too strong of a taste for aioli.)

-Sriracha hot sauce

-2 cups dried nori (preferably foraged yourself, because its so fun, but don’t feel bad about buying pre-made sheets)

-1/2 clove garlic

-2 tsp. Dijon mustard

-4 tbsp. lemon juice

-Salt/pepper to taste

  1. Pulse eggs, minced garlic, and lemon juice in food processor.
  2. Add the oil, a drop at a time until you have an emulsion, and then add the rest of your oil in a slow but steady stream. You know you’re done when your aioli ceases to be liquid eggs, and thickens to become lovely silky mayo.
  3. Add  nori, and Sriracha, and pulse to incorporate.  Aioli is really a matter of personal taste, so if you feel it’s too thick, add a drop or two of water, not sharp enough, add some more lemon, and of course salt and pepper to taste…feel free to experiment.

Simple Fish Soup

This is essentially a really rich fish stock, and goes amazingly well with the spicy aioli. And it's a fun dish to serve and eat: first, you bring out three bowls containing the crostini, aioli, and cheese as well as the pot of the fish stock. Spread aioli on top of three crostini and sprinkle some cheese on top. Lay these pieces in a bowl and ladle fish stock over it until it slightly covers the bread, then eat by spooning the soaked bread in your mouth. Bon appétit!

-5 lb. halibut bones (or other non-oily white fish such as haddock, hake, or sole). Have your fish guy cut them into pieces about the size of your hand.

-1 lb. carrot

-1 lb. celery

-2 lb. onion

-1/2 lb. fennel

-1/2 cup soy sauce

-1 1/2 cups white wine

-1/2 cup brandy

-2 gal chicken stock

-1 bay leaf

-Salt and pepper to taste

- 3 tbsp crab "goodies" (brains and organs from inside a cooked crab)

-1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

  1. Add fish bones to a oiled stockpot over medium high, cook about 15 minutes until caramelized.
  2. Add rough chopped veggies, brandy, wine, chicken stock, bay leaf, and soy and bring to a boil.
  3. Turn down to a simmer as soon as it boils and cook on low heat for 4 hours.
  4. You’ll know its done when you taste the rich flavors of the stocks coming together. Strain everything through a cheesecloth lined strainer.
  5. Return the soup to the pot and cook it over medium-high heat until it has reduced by half, about an hour.
  6. Serve with sides of crostini, aioli, and mozzarella cheese. You can’t miss with these flavors.

So the trip was great! We ate good food, met good people, and had some adventures, but it's nice to be back.

Iso

Recipes by Iso Rabins and Jordan Grosser

photos by Valerie Luu