[UK] Seaweed is expected to be one of the biggest food trends of the year, “set to explode, thanks to its sustainability angle and umami appeal,” according to the Specialty Food Association’s 2016 Trend Forecast.
“Kelp is the new kale,” said Barton Seaver, director of Harvard’s Healthy and Sustainable Food Program, in his new cookbook, “Superfood Seagreens.”
Visionaries such as Bren Smith of GreenWave are pioneering new methods of ocean farming and sustainable seafood, creating three-dimensional underwater gardens where seaweed, mussels and scallops float on ropes above oysters and clams below.
“We’re working to forge a new form of ocean cuisine built around ocean vegetarianism, which moves plants to the center of the plate and pushes wild fish to the edges,” Smith said in “Superfood Seagreens.”
Kelp and dulse, wakame and alaria — they’re all part of an emerging industry, and Boulder’s Dairy Center for the Arts is leading the way with its exhibition “Holdfast: Seaweeds in a Time of Oceanic Change,” which opens March 4.
Jill Powers, an environmental artist known for her use of natural materials, has a multi-sensory exhibition that explores the beauty, anatomy and role of seaweeds in the web of ocean life.
She’s so passionate about seaweed that she has organized a diverse series of public events throughout the month of the exhibition, including lectures, seaweed-spa workshops, art labs, and seaweed-inspired restaurant cuisine and cooking classes.
She also reached out to local mixologists, who created a special seaweed cocktail made from a miniature sea vegetable — pink, yellow and green tendrils that dance in the glass when paired with a bubbly liquid.
“I have such an enthusiasm for seaweed,” said Powers, “and the culinary (aspect) has certainly been a strong element in that.”
She started cooking with seaweed about 25 years ago, after taking classes at the Kushi Institute, a macrobiotic education center in Massachusetts, where she learned to integrate a variety of seaweeds into her meals, from stews to desserts.
But she didn’t get interested in seaweed ecology until she paddled through a kelp bed on a kayak trip in the Pacific Northwest.
“You’re pulling it up with your paddles, and it has fascinating colors and textures,” she said.
She started researching the anatomy of seaweed and got so hooked on the plant — which is a type of algae — that she recently spent about six months traveling to experts to learn more about it.
In Ireland, she visited the University of Galway to see the latest methods of seaweed farming and learned the ancient traditions of seaweed harvesting.
She visited roadside sellers of seaweed to learn how seaweed traditionally has been used in Irish meals, and she checked out a traditional hot seaweed bathhouse where seaweed baths are a soothing mix of seaweed oils, sea salt and minerals with deep purple and green seaweed floating atop the water.
In California, she attended a field research class taught by seaweed scientist Kathy Ann Miller, curator of the University of California’s seaweed collection who has explored seaweed all over the world.
Powers convinced Miller to go to Boulder and give a talk during the exhibition while sharing her slide show, “Secrets of the Deep: Glorious Seaweeds.”
Other events include a geology hike to learn about Colorado when it was part of the inland ocean and an art workshop taught by Powers using a botany collection of pressed seaweed to create seaweed-inspired collages.
Powers also pulled together people from the local culinary scene.
Brigitte Mars, who’s cooked with seaweeds for 40 years, will teach “Cooking with Seaweeds” at The Food Lab.
“Seaweed can be very delicious, and you can buy it at most natural food stores,” said Mars.
She’ll be making caviar from hiziki, a mineral-rich sea vegetable from Japan and Korea; a seaweed wrap of nori, the crispy seaweed known to everyone who’s ever crunched into a sushi roll; a savory Mermaid Salad and a kanten, a type of jelly made from red seaweed.
Shine Restaurant will host a three-course seaweed inspired dinner to benefit an ocean advocacy organization, and Bradford Heap’s new seafood restaurant, Wild Standard, will feature a special three-course seaweed-inspired meal throughout the month of the exhibition, so people can see the art of seaweed and go dine on it.
And for the opening-night party, there will be a tasting station including live specimens.
“Two of my friends from the Oregon coast and the San Juan Islands,” she said, “are bringing samples of whatever the ocean washes up that week.”
For a complete schedule of events, go to jillpowers.com/events.
Sautéed Seagreens with Bacon, Apple, and Onion
In his book “Superfood Seagreens,” Barton Seaver says that a good way to tempt people into trying seagreens is by using a bit of bacon. His recipe serves 4.
- 4 strips bacon
- 2 small onions cut into wedges
- 1 apple, such as Pink Lady, cut into thin wedges
- 1 pound fresh or frozen sugar kelp, blanched and cut into bite-size pieces
In a large sauté pan, brown the bacon and onion together. When the bacon is mostly crisp, pour off most of the fat.
Add the apple, toss to combine, and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add the seagreens and mix well. Cook until warmed through. Check the seasoning and adjust with salt, if needed.
Kelp, Walnut and Ginger Pesto
In “Superfood Seagreens,” Barton Seaver says recipes like this lend a rich dose of savory umami flavor to a dish — a meaty, woodsy flavor. Makes about 1½ cups.
- 1 cup fresh or frozen kelp, or ½ ounce dried kelp, rehydrated and water reserved
- 1½ teaspoons minced fresh ginger
- 1 small garlic clove
- ½ cup water, plus more as needed for texture
- ½ cup walnuts
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Add the kelp, ginger, garlic and ½ cup water (or ½ cup water from soaking kelp) to a Vitamix blender.
Purée, adding a little more water as needed.
Add the walnuts and extra virgin olive oil. Purée until smooth.
Season with salt.
Photo: Artist Jill Powers focuses on the art and beauty of seaweed, including this bed of seaweed from tide pools. (Provided by Jill Powers)
View original article at: Boulder artist brings seaweed trend to plates, spas and restaurants