Weird Seaweeds Recipes
Despite how most people imagine seaweeds as that long slimy stuff they must wade through on the beach, some weird seaweeds break away from the typical kelp-like structure of blade or leaf, holdfast or root and some form of stem or stipe. These unique seaweeds have bulbous and stringy structures that for foodies such as me, make for unique dishes. If you have an adventurous culinary spirit, then let’s explore some weird seaweed recipes made from unique seaweeds.
From our bio diverse shores of Vancouver Island come weird seaweed recipes
On a fresh spring morning, himself and I wandered down to our biodiverse Vancouver Island bay during a very low tide to find about 10 different types of weird seaweeds within an area of only 0.5 km². Pleasantly, we also found 3 different types of nudibranchs (sea slugs), 3 species of sea stars, sea cucumbers, sea anemones and egg pods laid by whelks. Among the seaweeds, we foraged three species to add to our culinary experiments: two were tubular and one was bulbous.
Tubular weed weird seaweed recipes
Scytosiphon lomentoria (soda straw) and Dumontia contorta (tubular weed) skim the tops of tide pools from small round holdfasts attached to the rocks. Easy to collect and readably abundant, we gently gathered above the holdfasts leaving at least 30% of the seaweeds to regrow. Subsequently at home, we lightly coated them with arrowroot powder only (no batter needed), then shallow fried them in hot oil making a salty crispy treat. I fashioned them into Indian bhajis and served them with fresh coconut sambal. Wow! The salty crispy flavour of the fried seaweeds paired deliciously with the sweet aromatic flavours of the coconut sambal.
Oyster thief weird seaweed recipes
The second weirdest seaweed were the bulbous oyster thief or Colpomenia perigrina. Originally from Japan, this invasive seaweed arrived to Vancouver Island with oyster shipments. The bulbous form is the thallus or fragmentation form that can float from the parent plant and reproduce an entirely new plant anywhere. I suppose it thieved oyster spores also, hence the name. It is not slimy, does not smell “seaweedy” and tastes like iceberg lettuce but has more nutritional value. It falls apart when heated, therefore, it should be eaten fresh. I filled them with the same filling for Chinese lettuce wraps. However, they held together better than traditional lettuce wraps, and easily popped into our mouths as a fresh snack.
Next time you are at a beach, take a closer look. On pristine biodiverse beaches, to a foody such as myself, it can resemble a sea vegetable market. To others, it may just look like a serene place to linger and listen to the waves. That’s cool too.
Tubular and soda straw seaweed Indian bhajis with fresh coconut sambal (shown above)
Wash seaweeds and dry with towel. Toss in arrowroot flour. Heat oil in a frying pan. Deep fry until crispy on both sides.
Fresh coconut sambal
½ c shredded fresh coconut
½ tsp. sambal oelek (chili sauce) or ½ tbsp dried chili flakes
1 tbsp Maldive fish (dried skipjack tuna)
1 shredded medium onion
Pinch sugar to taste
1 tsp. lime juice
Mix all ingredients and serve with bhagis.
Oyster thief “lettuce” wraps
Wash oyster thief thoroughly with fresh water. Cut away hairs that attach it in the wild. Make small opening to stuff filling.
454 g ground pork or tofu ground round
50 g cooked shrimp
½ shallot chopped
½ tsp. shredded ginger
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. soya sauce
1 tbsp. chopped red pepper
Pepper to taste
Heat 1 tbsp. oil in frying pan. Brown shallots and ginger. Add pork and seasonings until cooked. Add red peppers and shrimp last. Serve stuffed inside oyster thief seaweed.