The ocean is the Earth’s biggest resource, covering more than 70% of our planet, and it is full of under-utilised sea vegetables that are delicious, sustainable and nutrient-dense. Next time you take a blustery walk on the beach, have a forage for fresh seaweed. Large, brush-like kelp heads will probably be scattered along the shoreline or in rock pools. Dry the freshest-smelling pieces at home – use a foraging handbook to identify kelp and other tasty species such as laver, dulse and sea lettuce.
Kelp, or kombu as it’s called in Japan, where it’s widely used, is heralded as a sustainable protein, high in soluble fibre and full of vitamins A, B, C, D and E, among others, depending on the species. Despite being low in fat, seaweed is also full of omega-3 fatty acids.
Seaweed is versatile and works in most dishes, either as a seasoning or as the main component. Try replacing pasta with sheets of boiled kelp in a vegetable or spinach lasagne; use it in salads; or make kombu dashi, a simple Japanese stock that will add an umami boost and savouriness to soups and stews.
Kombu dashi (kelp stock)
Kelp stock is a secret weapon in the kitchen that can save a dish or bring it to life.
Prep 1 min
Cook 1-5 hr
Makes 500ml stock
5cm piece of kelp (kombu)
Fill a glass jar or bowl with the water, add the kelp and soak for a one to five hours, or in the fridge overnight. After soaking, strain through a sieve and keep in the fridge for up to three days (or several months in the freezer).
Make miso soup using the leftover kelp by cutting it into small pieces and simmering with 300ml water for 15 minutes. Finish by stirring in two large tablespoons of miso and some chopped spring onion tops.
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