Take a look at any coastal delicacies and also you’ll discover seaweed. In Peru, it tops the nationwide dish (ceviche), in Scandinavia, you may see it in fiskesuppe (fish soup) or mashed into butter—not simply on fancy tasting menus (Noma, ahem)—and in Japan, kombu is a pantry staple. The class of seaweed is a large and various one. The phrase itself typically refers to marine macroalgae, i.e., algae dwelling in brackish water or salt water and visual to the attention. Scientifically talking, that algae is damaged down into three classes—pink (Rhodophyta), inexperienced (Chlorophyta), and brown (Phaeophyta)—and in case you can’t inform the distinction, that’s as a result of the colours usually are not really decided by the leaves however reasonably by constructions you may’t essentially see.
Why eat seaweed in any respect? Not solely is seaweed extraordinarily nutritious for people (it’s acquired protein, fiber, and a very good quantity of nutritional vitamins), however, when grown and harvested responsibly, it’s additionally a good-for-planet meals supply that provides greater than it takes. A wealthy habitat for ocean life, it’s the inspiration of your complete underwater ecosystem—consider it just like the meadows and forests of the ocean, says Josie Iselin, creator of The Curious World of Seaweed. It reduces carbon within the ocean and it regenerates naturally—no want for fertilizers, irrigation, and even land.
However whereas seaweed is getting quite a lot of current hype as a part of efforts to fight local weather change, it’s been used to taste and protect for hundreds of years. “Seaweed is a part of our creation,” says Louis Trevino, co-chef and co-owner of Cafe Ohlone, a restaurant devoted to preserving the culinary traditions of the Ohlone individuals in Berkeley, California. “It’s the newest factor that folks look to as a sustainable meals supply, however it’s a meals we’ve been consuming for a very long time.”
You don’t even must dwell close to the ocean to get it. For dried seaweed, merely head to your neighborhood Asian and Latinx markets and decide up a bag no matter catches your eye (kombu! dulse! gim!) and rehydrate earlier than cooking. For non-dried stuff, verify together with your native specialty fish purveyor to see what they’ve or store on-line (we like Monterey Bay Seaweeds and Atlantic Sea Farms). Eat it immediately—most have a really brief shelf life (just a few days or so).
There’s a massive, umami-laden world of seaweed on the market—almost 12,000 species—however listed here are those we (and different meals mates) like to prepare dinner with.
Seaweed aficionados know that the contemporary stuff is pure luxurious. Each coastal area focuses on completely different varieties—briny limu in Hawaii, tubular gutweed in Thailand—so hunt down what’s native to the realm. However that doesn’t imply it is best to go to the seashore and pluck out each seaweed in sight. “It’s being overharvested,” says Nalani Kaneakua, a limu practitioner and founding father of Koʻolau Limu Restoration Challenge in Kauaʻi. “We have to know harvest, to verify there’s limu left behind, and to select with out pulling the roots out.” As an alternative, chat with seaweed farmers, practitioners, and native seafood purveyors about buy from or harvest with them (many supply workshops and seaweed-harvesting excursions).