Edible seaweed

Why not head to the coast this winter for a seaweed forage along our bountiful shorelines? Dan Scott of Fore Adventure is your guide...

Photos: Justin Glynn

Gutweed, Ulva intestinalis (top left)

This is a great seaweed to start with because if you get it wrong, you’re not going to make yourself ill. It’s the wild garlic of the seaweed world. You can find this green stringy weed in rock pools and salt marshes and it’s easy to spot because it has a passing resemblance to intestines, hence the name. You can bake it in bread or throw it into omelettes, but I like to trick my children into eating it by sneaking some into a stir fry or fajitas. Just chuck it in for the last 30 seconds of cooking.

Saw toothed wrack, Fucus serratus (top right)

Saw toothed wrack grows in heavy bunches on the lower shore, just above the low water mark on sheltered, rocky shores. It's often harvested for use in cosmetics rather than for food, but just like its cousin bladderwrack it makes a great tea or Japanese noodle soup. You can also use it to add flavour to a stew or to sauté your fish over (see bladderwrack, below). Alternatively, you can dry it then grind into a powder and use as a salty condiment.

Bladderwrack, Fucus vesiculosus (bottom left)

You’ll find this in shallow rocky areas. You can use the young tips to make a salad or lightly steam them as a side vegetable. For the ultimate seaweedy taste, sauté your fish over them. Simply place in the bottom of a heavy bottomed pan with some butter and cook your fish on top. The oil is also good for gnarly old sea hands – if you pop the bubbles and rub it into your hands, it’ll moisturise your skin a treat.

Pepper dulse, Osmundea pinnatifida (bottom right)

You can find pepper dulse growing in layers on rocks in intertidal zones. It’s not a commonly eaten seaweed but in small quantities it is a real treat with a unique salty, peppery flavour. Throw it into fish dishes as a seasoning or on top a salad to give it a powerful peppery taste. In Scotland it used to be gathered and dried as a substitute for pepper and is still a key ingredient in some traditional Highland soups.

Dan Scott is an outdoor adventure coach and guide at Fore Adventure on the Dorset coast. You can read more of his seashore foraging wisdoms in print issue 2 of Ernest Journalon sale now.