Having spent last week on the Irish coast we were lucky enough to be taken seaweed foraging with Bruce Macdonald who has been foraging coastlines for some 10 years. I had always been curious about cooking with seaweed and in particular what type you would use in bread.
The salty fresh Irish air was still warm but the sea was rough as the waves curled and lapped against the rocks. We were at a tiny fishing port, the tide was out and the rock pools were covered in seaweed and moss, which made for a slippery, craggy forage. Davy & I clambered the rocks and rock pools collecting Dillisk (deep aubergine colour) and other types of seaweed that we could cook with.
Top tips for seaweed foraging:
1) Never turn your back on the tide!
2) Follow sustainable foraging by ensuring you leave the root intact so it can grow back.
3) Look out for signs of sewerage, industrial areas – you don’t want to be collecting seaweed in these parts as the seaweed is likely to be polluted.
4) If you are unsure, check with the local water authority.
5) Consider where you are foraging, some areas are National Park Territory so you would need permission.
6) Some seaweed just tastes nasty or incredibly bland so identify the types and try them out – you may need to be a little more creative in the kitchen with some varieties.
7) Consider all the other types of marine & plant life that relies on the seaweed for food.
8) Seaweed can be incredibly nutritious as it has the ability to absorb all the nutrients surrounding it, however it can also absorb pollutants too!
9) Only collect seaweed that is vibrant & healthy ie. attached to the rocks. Rinse your seaweed well before cooking.
Recipe for Dillisk Bread - With thanks to Bruce Macdonald & the Irish costal team
This is primarily savoury bread but it has an element of sweetness that makes it acceptable also as tea bread. The use of dillisk (or ‘dulse’) gives an unusual and definite taste of the sea.
25g dried Dillisk, soaked for 5 minutes
110g melted butter
1 large carrot grated
50g caster sugar
250g plain flour
Pinch of salt
1.5 tsp of baking powder
1) Pat Dillisk dry & chop finely
2) Prepare greased baking tins (I used two small but this recipe will yield approx 600g loaf)
3) Combine butter, eggs, sugar, Dillisk, carrot & salt
4) Fold in sieved flour & baking powder
5) Fill the tin with the mixture & bake for 40-50 mins on 140◦
6) Cool before turning out & slicing