Seaweed is abundant on the California coast from May to July. Naturally high in glutamates — which offer the rich umami flavor we crave — seaweed is found in several varieties, colors, and textures.
A miracle of versatility, seaweed can be used to thicken sauces or such stocks as dashi. It can also be used raw, steamed, marinated, fried, or pickled. Yes, you can simply pick it up from the sea and eat it.
Along our Northern California coastline, individuals can gather up to 10 pounds a day of sea vegetables without a license.
The June 9, 2017, full moon offers the lowest tide of the year and the most light for plants to grow, which should translate into an abundant harvest, but any summertime full moon provides a delightful ambiance for coast-walking, hunting down seaweed.
When dried, seaweed will keep indefinitely; fresh, it will keep for 10 days in the refrigerator.
Here is our guide to seaweeds commonly found on the California coast. Many thanks to Heidi Hermann of Strong Arm Farm for her insights!
Often used medicinally to treat thyroid disorders, bladderwrack is high in iodine and iron.
A thicker, darker variety that turns deep green when cooked. In Nova Scotia and Maine, dried dulse is often served as a bar snack.
Kombu is the Japanese name for the dried seaweed that is derived from a mixture ofLaminariaspecies. Excellent with beans, kombu is also used in Japanese cuisine to flavor dashi broth.
A mild seaweed often wrapped around a small handful of rice, nori grows as a very thin, flat, reddish blade. With a mild flavor, nori can also be crumbled over food as a condiment, or massaged with oil and toasted as with kale chips.
A tender green algae used in salads and soups, sea lettuce is a delicate variety of seaweed. In its sheet form, sea lettuce can be used to wrap fish.
One of the most popular and commonly found seaweeds, wakame has a higher fiber content than nori or kale, and is rich in niacin, calcium, riboflavin, and thiamine.
We feature a daily seaweed salad in our SHED Larder and often on our Café menu. To prepare a version at home, here is a recipe from Chef Perry Hoffman.
Seaweed Salad with Shaved Vegetables and Kimchi Vinaigrette
8 oz fresh seaweed (suggestions: dulse, sea palm, ogo, fucas, cat’s tongue, nori, or chain bladder)
1 large watermelon radish, shaved paper thin on mandolin
1 fennel, shaved paper thin on mandolin
1 Japanese cucumber, shaved paper thin on mandolin
2 cups snap peas
2 large handfuls pea shoots
8 oz Hodo Soy firm tofu
20 small basil leaves
20 cilantro leaves
10 padron peppers, raw, shaved thin, with no seed or stems
1 cup kimchi
3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp white soy sauce (shoyu)
1 tbsp golden sesame oil
4 tbsp rice oil
In a blender, add kimchi, vinegar, soy, and sesame oil. Blend until smooth. Drizzle in the rice oil.
Dress the salad with the vinaigrette and serve.