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Cooking with Fresh Seaweed

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Seaweed has always been an important part of the human diet. In some countries, such as Japan, people commonly eat freshly gathered or dried seaweeds. In the United States, we also eat seaweed products, sometimes without realizing it. Stabilizers and emulsifiers (such as carageenan) extracted from some seaweeds have been used in the production of toothpaste, gelatins, puddings, and ice cream. Near Sakonnet, Rhode Island, Irish moss has been commercially harvested as a source of carageenan. And, of course, what would a Rhode Island clambake be without mounds of steaming brown rockweed?  

Sea lettuce seasoning
Collect sea lettuce fronds and rinse several times in fresh water. The fronds may be dried slowly by spreading them on newspaper and placing them in the sun or in a warm room for about a week.  Alternatively, they may be dried for several hours in a warm oven—but the odor of seaweed will permeate the air, and it is not particularly pleasant!  After drying, the fronds will be reduced in size and blackened.  Crumble them finely and use as a seasoning with rice, soups, and main dishes.  

Blanc mange
cup packed Irish moss
1 quart milk
cup sugar
pinch of salt
cheesecloth
fruit or flavoring as desired

Wash Irish moss several times in fresh water.  Heat milk and seaweed in a double boiler.  Cook over boiling water for about 30 minutes (no more), stirring occasionally.  Strain through cheesecloth and discard the Irish moss.  Add sugar and salt to the milk and allow to partially cool.  Add fruit or flavoring as blanc mange begins to thicken.  (Suggested additions: blueberries, raspberries, almond flavoring, or honey. )  Pour into molds and chill in the refrigerator for several hours.  May be served with cream.

Irish moss salad 
Irish moss
3 lemons
lettuce leaves
1 cups celery , finely diced
2 apples
3 tbsp. Mayonnaise
chopped walnuts

Wash some picked-over Irish moss in hot water.  Place in a pan or bowl and cover with the juice of three lemons.  After several hours the moss will have dissolved, hardening everything into a yellow jelly.  Place this in the refrigerator to chill for a couple of hours.

Arrange a few lettuce leaves on four chilled salad plates.  Cut the moss mixture into cubes and place them in the center of the lettuce.  Cut the apples into cubes and mix these with finely diced celery and mayonnaise.  Distribute apple mixture among the four salads and top with walnuts.

Seaweed soup stock
Edible kelp, Irish moss, and dulse can all be used in this recipe. The resulting soup is clear and can be used as a base. Clean seaweed by rinsing with fresh water. If edible kelp is used, remove its olive-colored membrane. In a pot, cover seaweed with water and boil for 30 minutes. Serve hot as a soup with added seasonings, or cooled as a jelly.

Seaweed bread
Thoroughly rinsed and dried seaweed
Bread recipe

Use a regular bread recipe.  Grind or powder dried seaweed into a flour and substitute this seaweed flour for half the amount of flour called for by the recipe.  Follow the recipe with these changes: Substitute water for milk; add an extra tablespoon of butter; and omit salt.  Experiment with different seasonings.

Recipes reprinted from: The Uncommon Cookbook, Maine Sea Grant Program.

Return to Rhode Island Sea Grant Fact Sheets