Friday 23 August 2013

Brittany recipe idea : Cooking with Seaweed

Straight after our fortnight in Morocco, we've headed down to Brittany this week to see the in laws' so we've been catching up with all things Breton - crêpes, cidre, kouign aman and seafood. We went to visit a family friend in Roscoff earlier in the week (which is the ferry port linked to Plymouth) and saw an interesting demonstration about cooking with seaweed at the Maison des Algues. I never knew there were so many different types of edible seaweed.

The first, and least worrying-looking for anyone who's never eaten seaweed before, is called "laitue de mer" - sea lettuce - and you can immediately see why because it looks very similar to regular salad leaves. They can be eaten raw or cooked, are packed with minerals and apparently have a pleasant, slightly nutty flavour. You can also buy it in dried flakes and use it instead of parsley, sprinkled over a dish just before serving.

I can't remember what the scientific name for this one is but the local kids call it "peau de crocodile" because it looks like a crocodile or snake skin. This one is quite old and brown but the best ones are the young green ones which are great for using to wrap fish in and cook it "en papillote". I can imagine that would give it a real taste of the sea and it's also a much more eco-friendly option than plastic or foil bags for cooking.

Next was "haricots de mer" - the green beans of the sea - also called "spaghetti de mer" (don't need to translate that one). She explained that these are quite crunchy with a taste of iodine/the sea and suggested cooking 1/2 tagliatelle and 1/2 "sea spaghetti" for a twist on the usual pasta recipes.

I have to admit, eating seaweed isn't something I've ever been overly keen to try, but I did find this all really interesting. Have any of you sampled seaweed dishes before and if so, what did you think ?

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