At the lowest tide a wonderful ocean garden is revealed. For the savvy forager a delicious cornucopia of vegetables is ready for picking. Some seaweeds exist in the splash zone (as you go down to the beach) but many do not survive desiccation (the time that seaweeds aren’t covered by water). Seaweeds adapt to the climate in which they grow.The seaside forager needs to make friends with the moon and tides to be in touch with the zone where each species grows. Spring is the time to discover seaweed. Zone in. It’s free.
In colder parts, the snowdrops are still peeking through snow banked ditches, and Jack by the Hedge and ransoms, (Jack’s more pungent partner in garlic crime) have yet to raise bud. But seaweeds are rejuvenating. The bounty of the ocean floor is ready for gathering long before the terrestrial wild green.
My recipe is for that time in March, when the wind is icy, and yet there is a hint of warmth is the sun when it breaks through. It uses sea spaghetti. Early in the season this seaweed can be eaten raw from the rocks. It’s delicious. Unlike many seaweeds this species is available in supermarkets.
Sea spaghetti is also known as buttonweed due to its distinctive hold fast (by which it is attached to the rock). It’s popular in France where it is called spaghetti de la mere and sea haricot may allude to French interest too. It is also known as thong weed. Pedants may prefer to call it Himanthalia elongata. The translation of elongata (long) may help you with its identification.
I’m working on a revamp of my book, Seaweed in the Kitchen which will include some new recipes. Raw and vegan, sea spaghetti ticks lots of dietary boxes.
Root and Sea Vegetable Salad
This is perfect for early spring. It combines the earthy texture of winter’s celeriac with new growth sea spaghetti.
400g fresh young sea spaghetti
Juice half a small lemon
For the dressing
2tsps finely grated fresh ginger
2tbsps rice vinegar
Black pepper (few twists)
4tbsps creamy yoghurt
2 tbsps toasted sesame seeds
3 tbsps olive oil
Cut the sea spaghetti into fork-easy lengths. Pop half of the sea spaghetti into a colander and pour over a kettle of boiling water. It will turn green. Set aside to cool.
Peel the celeriac and cut it into match sized pieces. No bigger. This is hard work. Use a food processor if you are time short but the salad won’t be as textured. Put the celeriac strips in a bowl, add the lemon juice and toss well. (lemon juice to prevent discolouration).
Cut the carrot in a similar fashion and add to the prepared celeriac.
Make the dressing.
Blend the rice vinegar, black pepper, toasted seeds and yoghurt together. Whisk in the oil and pour the dressing over the prepared root vegetables.
Toss well, season to taste and add the sea vegetables. Lightly mix the sea and root vegetables and leave for ten minutes before serving.