Gutweed, kelp and wrack…

I mentioned yesterday the seaweed selection I had bought from a wonderful deli in Monthmouth, The Marches Delicatessen, but I didn’t explain what the different seaweeds were! it was a little gift set from the Pembrokeshire Beach Food Company, with five different dried, flaked seaweed with some recipe suggestions. Wrack, gutweed, laver, dulse and kelp. Although we live right by the sea (about 400 yards from it and about 4 inches above it!) we don’t really get seaweed – our shore is more sand and mud, the result of living on the River Severn estuary. However, further down the coast, or across the channel to Wales there are shorelines with plenty of this wonderful sea product, just there for the gathering!

By coincidence I mentioned seaweed in the previous book I published, Lucky Portbradden. Slake is another name for some sorts of seaweed,…

“And by the way, Alex, do you know why it’s Slake House and Slake Hall?” he shook his head and she went on. “A distant ancestor made his money from seaweed, here in Easthope and built Slake House which he named after the source of his wealth – slake, which is seaweed! A later Portbraddon built Slake Hall, and took the name!”

So here, is an explanation of what those seaweeds are:

  • wrack – it can be a general term for seaweed, but can be seagrasses and brown seaweed
  • gutweed – is a green alga also known as sea lettuce
  • laver – contains high proportions of protein, iron, and especially iodine, vitamins B2, A, D and C
  • dulse –   is a red alga also called  dillisk, dilsk, red dulse, sea lettuce flakes, or creathnach; it is a good source of protein, minerals and vitamins and amazingly contains all trace elements needed by humans
  • kelp – large brown alga, there are about thirty different varieties and it grows in forests under the sea, rich in minerals and vitamins

On the back of the packaging, here is what the Beachfood Company suggests for each ‘weed’:

  • wrack – best used in long and slow dishes, where it becomes tender and brings depth of flavour
  • gutweed – mix with butter and use to pan fry white fish or use as a condiment to garnish pasta dishes or risotto
  • laver – their personal favourite, a slight olive marine flavour which just seems to make every dish taste better!
  • dulse –  a strong, fragrant flavour which is outstanding with potatoes, breads and scones
  • kelp – the original natural flavour enhancer. best used when cooking stir fries and noodle dishes for a unami flavour

Here is a link to my novel, Lucky Portbraddon, and also to the other things i have mentioned:

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