What can be done with seaweed?
Seaweed is a versatile ingredient. It can be used raw, steamed, marinated, fried crisp or even pickled. We have seen fresh seaweed used in vinaigrette poured over grilled cauliflower steaks, paired with roasted lamb and in amazing bar preparations. Dulse can be fried until crisp and served as a great bar snack or used to make a vegan dashi, sea lettuce can be wrapped around sashimi or infused in gin for a Monterey Bay Martini and ogo can be used just about anywhere.
And by the way, we have been told that the cold pickling process seems to work best...but we are not exactly sure why.
What makes seaweeds special in the kitchen?
What makes seaweed special is the relatively high amount of protein. This protein, along with the inherent potassium (the salts inside the seaweed as opposed to the salts coating it) and minerals, is what some chefs refer to as umami. It is what leads to that special fullness and mouth-feel that chefs like to talk about. Some chefs actually say 'sea-mami', but that's up to you.
What makes seaweed interesting when it comes to textures and thickening are the carbohydrates. This is why some chefs use seaweed, agar, carrageenan and alginates when working in molecular gastronomy.
Soaking fresh seaweeds in certain alcohols lends not just flavors but also some great colors. Also, fresh ogo turns bight orange when immersed in straight gin or vodka. Bartenders can have a lot of fun with this when creating new drinks for the bar menu.
How is the seaweed farmed?
Our seaweed is farmed in recirculating tanks. We only use seawater and sunshine - there are NO additives or chemicals.
How is farming Monterey Bay Seaweeds sustainable?
Monterey Bay Seaweeds are cultivated in recirculating land-based tanks and are grown with very few resources meaning there are no inputs as far as feeds or chemicals. By cultivating seaweeds in these tanks there is no impact on the environment as a result of wild harvest.
Monterey Bay Seaweed is delivered alive to the kitchen. What does that mean and why is it important?
When the seaweed is harvested, it is scooped out of the tank, weighed, then packaged in sterile seawater before being sent off directly to chefs. In fact, if we were to put the seaweed back into the tank, it would do fine and continue growing just as it had before. Another reason this is important is due to the use of sanitizers in commercial kitchens. If kitchen utensils, like tongs, spoons or ladles are not rinsed before removing Monterey Bay Seaweeds from their packets, they will introduce chemical sanitizers to the seawater which will kill the seaweeds. It is important to rinse all utensils before introducing them to the seaweed water. Remember, this seaweed is alive so it is vital to watch out for cross contamination.
What is the difference between fresh Monterey Bay Seaweeds and dried seaweeds?
Our seaweed is alive. This means if we were to put it back into the tanks of nutrient rich sea water it would continue to grow. Dried seaweed is dried....simply put, dead.
Once seaweed is dried, it will only ever rehydrate to about 80%, meaning it will have a heavier texture or mouthfeel. Our fresh, live seaweed still has a fully intact cell structure along with all the nutrients from the original sea water. This means it has an unparalleled crunch, full flavor and amazing texture. Besides, once fresh seaweed is dried, no-one really knows what nutrients are lost. What we can be sure of is that our fresh, raw live seaweeds are ready to be served just as they would fresh out of the ocean.
What is the shelf-life of Monterey Bay Seaweeds once delivered?
Our seaweeds are packed in sterile seawater. If kept under good refrigerated conditions and no cross contamination occurs (remember the sanitizer note from above!) then you can count on a solid week of sustained freshness. If for some reason the seaweeds need to be refreshed, a mixture of 1/2 cup table salt and 1 gallon of fresh water can be used to replace the original water the seaweed came in.
No...just because the seaweed is alive doesn't mean it will continue to grow in the water used for packing. This is sterile sea water and therefore it has no nutrients. Sorry chef, you will have to re-order.
How are Monterey Bay Seaweeds packaged?
Our seaweeds come in sterile seawater and are ready to use. They are fresh, raw and actually still alive.
What is the season for the different types of Monterey Bay Seaweeds?
Ha! This is a trick question as there are no seasons for our seaweeds. They are sustainably farmed in land-based tanks and harvested to order. The seaweeds are available year-round.
How can my restaurant order Monterey Bay Seaweeds?
We currently supply seaweeds directly from the farm to restaurants and chefs in the immediate Monterey Bay area. In the San Francisco Bay Area (SF, Marin, East Bay, South Bay) we are distributed by TwoXSea, a seafood distributor located in San Francisco.
If you are a chef looking for our seaweeds outside of these areas, please let us know more about who and where you are. Chick here for our contact form.