Edible seaweed trialled by pioneering Tasmanian company

[Australia] Kai Ho Tasmanian Sea Vegetables processes and markets seaweeds sustainably harvested on the Tasmanian east and south coast.

Its new product — the spectacular Red Lettuce — attracted the attention of Delicious judges for its taste and culinary visual appeal.

The three-year-old business venture has developed a small range of edible seaweed products most of which is salted, frozen or dried for sale but some is sold fresh.

The well-known Japanese Wakame (Undaria pinnatifida) is an introduced invasive seaweed to Tasmania. It is harvested by the tonne and sold fresh and frozen in catering quantities as well as in smaller dried domestic packages.

Red Lettuce (Grateloupia turuturu) is also an introduced species but less prolific, harvested by the basket and sold at a premium.

Kai Ho co-manager and passionate seaweed biologist Dr Craig Sanderson said it was a unique product.

“Normally seaweeds are brown or green and this is a red seaweed, so it’s very striking to the eye and looks good on the dish,” he said.

“Its got a very subtle flavour so it’s very good and you can add it to a variety of dishes.”

Dr Sanderson was confident there would be plenty of scope to farm and harvest local seaweeds, and he was getting permits for wider species collection.

He said there were more than 2,000 varieties of seaweed in Australia and around a thousand species in Tasmanian waters alone.

Kai Ho was pioneering the harvest of edible seaweed in Australia, but interest was growing interstate.

“There is a lot of interest over in Europe as well for growing seaweeds for fuels, also for using it for fertiliser which has been done for thousands of years in Europe … and there is also the potential for nutraceuticals and other chemicals from the seaweeds,” Dr Sanderson said.

“We’d like to use a lot of the local species but there are lots of regulations associated with using those.”

Dr Sanderson said the company had small numbers of them going onto the market on a trial basis to see how well they were taken up.

“We have permits for at least four or five others,” he said.

“Most people would be familiar with the sea lettuce, which is a green bladey seaweed [and] we have a Tasmanian form of the Japanese konbu that is getting well received.

“There is one in particular that we think might go very well here — the Chaetomorpha coliformis, or mermaid’s necklace. It just looks like little green beads and it has a very distinctive flavour, like cucumbers.”

And how would Dr Sanderson use his Red Lettuce?

“I’d probably use it in an omelette just for a bit of colour through the egg dish, or probably in a stir fry. I saw somebody recently who had a very unique use for it and they had put it in a hamburger!”


View original article at: Edible seaweed trialled by pioneering Tasmanian company

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