Cuisine

MOROCCAN LAMB STEW WITH DULSE

It’s early December now and the weather has taken it’s turn to cold and rainy on the central coast of California. The kind of weather that makes you want a warm drink in your hands and a bowl of hot stew for dinner.

While looking up stew recipes we came across this one for MOROCCAN LAMB STEW WITH DULSE provided by Mara Seaweed.

Can’t wait to give this one a try on a cold rainy day.

Seaweed common names: Laver

There are many names for commonly consumed seaweeds. However, the species they refer to vary by region and culture. We will cover some of the most commonly used names for seaweeds, and review the differences between connotation and denotation. This series will review some of the most common common-names in use.

Previous posts include: Nori, Wakame


Laver

Laver, Latin for water plant, was adopted by the English some time in the 16th century. In Wales a popular dish was known as laverbread or bara lawr. To make laverbread, thin sheet like algae were collected from the rocky shores, boiled, pureed, then mixed with oats and fried. It was this popular dish that gave laver its current meaning: thin sheet like algae.

Today laver is liberally used to define edible seaweeds, but more specifically thin algae. Color adjectives became common to separate types of laver, green laver (Ulva sp.), purple laver (Pyropia sp. or Porphyra sp.).

Laver in the marketplace is considered a synonym of zicai (Chinese: 紫菜; pinyinZǐcài) in China, nori (海苔) in Japan, and gim (김) in Korea.

Seaweed common names: Wakame

There are many names for commonly consumed seaweeds. However, the species they refer to vary by region and culture. We will cover some of the most commonly used names for seaweeds, and review the differences between connotation and denotation. This series will review some of the most common common-names in use.

Previous posts include: Nori


Wakame

Wakame is another edible seaweed popularized by the Japanese. You are probably familiar with wakame in the form of seaweed salad or as the little green strips within your miso soup.

ワカメ pronounced wakame, translates to seaweed, but in modern Japanese dictionaries directly refers to a specific species, Undaria pinnatifida.

Undaria pinnatifida is a brown seaweed (kelp) that grows substantially along rocky temperate coasts. The Latin root is Unda = wavy, and Pinna = pinnately cleft. Wakame in Japanese is derived from waka + me (若布, lit. young seaweed).

As early as the 8th century wakame was known to be harvested off the coast of Japan, China, and Korea. Undaria pinnatifida has since then spread to various regions of the world and has been added to the list of 100 most invasive species. Most recently Undaria pinnatifida crossed the pacific ocean again on debris carried from the 2011 tsunami.

Wakame is typically harvested, dried or blanched, and then sold. Upon purchase the wakame is then re-hydrated by soaking in water or soups.

While in the USA we are more familiar with the term wakame, other cultures call Undaria pinnatifida by other names: Qun dai cai (Chinese), Miyeouk (Korean), or sea mustard (English).

Today many foragers refer to other species as wakame. On the north coast some species of Alaria are being labeled as wakame as there is no native Undaria.

Seaweed common names: Nori

There are many names for commonly consumed seaweeds. However, the species they refer to vary by region and culture. We will cover some of the most commonly used names for seaweeds, and review the differences between connotation and denotation. This series will review some of the most common common-names in use.


Nori

Nori is the most recognizable edible seaweed in the world. Almost everyone has eaten, or at least seen, sushi rolled in nori paper. Nori mostly refers to the genus Pyropia even though the literal translation is seaweed.

Nori is the word for the Japanese characters 海苔 or . While both characters are pronounced as nori, the translations are slightly different. The first set 海苔 translates in English as seaweed or laver (laver will be reviewed in a separate post soon), while translates to paste or glue.

Historically nori was used to describe all edible seaweeds, which were traditionally ground into a paste as early as the 8th century. It wasn’t until the 1700s that Japanese began making nori into thin sheets. These sheets were made using similar techniques as traditional paper making during the Edo period. The sugars within nori act as a glue, as translated, and will adhere to itself when ground and dried.

The sheets of nori we see today are typically from the genus Pyropia. How and when this term for seaweeds became genus specific is unclear, but at some point Edo fishermen realized when they used bamboo stakes to hold their nets Pyropia would grow on them. Fishermen began to add extra stakes to grow more Pyropia and this began the Pyropia cultivation in Japan.

A seaweed thanksgiving: Gravy

This post follows our segment “A seaweed Thanksgiving.”

Our last dishes were mashed potatoes, Yams with dulse, seaweed butter, and steak sauce


Have you ever seen people meticulously put every food item on their plates, then pour gravy over everything? What about those delicious leftover turkey sandwiches with gravy? However you use it, most people would agree, your thanksgiving meal needs that gravy boat.

We recently came across this gravy recipe that uses kombu for savory flavor and thickening. This recipe is vegetarian, but could easily incorporate portly or beef broth so satisfy those carnivorous family members.

A seaweed thanksgiving: seaweed steak sauce

This post follows our segment “A seaweed Thanksgiving.”

Our last dishes were mashed potatoes, Yams with dulse, seaweed butter


Today we are introducing a seaweed steak sauce featured in the Wine Enthusiast, courtesy of Junghyun Park “JP”, chef and co-owner of Atomix in New York City. This recipe calls for nori, which is available in nearly all grocery stores. The sauce is Korean influenced using a little soy and toasted sesame oil. Then JP couples the seaweed sauce with a spicy horseradish sauce to give the steak a little spice.

While this sauce was intended for steak, it could be easily adapted for other meats and vegetables.

A seaweed thanksgiving

This post follows our segment “A seaweed Thanksgiving.”

Our last dishes were mashed potatoes, Yams with dulse


Today’s addition to a seaweed thanksgiving is seaweed butter.

Butter is critical to many traditional recipes, and what would thanksgiving dinner be without a basket of warm bread rolls, waiting to be buttered?

We found a quick recipe from theKitchn.com for adding dulse to butter. The recipe uses dried dulse, because it’s easier to find in some stores, but if you want to add a little more texture, consider using fresh dulse. If you want to have the taste and feel of bacon bits in your butter, try pan tossing fresh dulse first then add it to your butter mix.

A seaweed Thanksgiving: fried yams with dulse

This post follows our segment “A seaweed Thanksgiving.”

Our last dish was mashed potatoes 


Yams are another staple of the traditional Thanksgiving meal. There are many ways to prepare yams, but we found one way that looks especially good.

Yam fries with dulse - While the recipe is not mentioned, it could be gleaned from the basic idea. Leslie Cerier, a chef and author, shared a dish that contained fried yams with dulse seaweed, kelp powder, and toasted sesame seeds. The use of dulse in this dish is very attractive, as dulse is known to be the bacon of seaweeds. Dulse fries well and yields a salty crunch similar to a potato chip.

If you prepare this dish we highly recommend using fresh dulse to get that savory crunch. Fresh live dulse is grown at Monterey Bay Seaweeds.

A seaweed thanksgiving part 1: mashed potatoes

With thanksgiving rapidly approaching, we thought we should start looking into some traditional dishes that incorporate seaweeds. This is the first post in our segment, “A seaweed thanksgiving.” Enjoy!

Traditionally Americans celebrate the 4th Thursday in November as thanksgiving. The celebration is a representation of the first thanksgiving celebrated by the pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in October 1621. They were joined by the Native Americans who had helped the pilgrims forage in an unfamiliar land. Later thanksgiving was declared a federal holiday in 1863 by president Abraham Lincoln, during the American Civil War.

Unfortunately, the pilgrims and Natives have a complicated history, to say the least, that has soured many peoples perception of the holiday. We will only be focused on the holiday as a time to spend with friends and family, and more specifically, sharing food.


mashed potatoes.

The fist dish is a cornerstone of the American thanksgiving feast: mashed potatoes.

This recipe by Michael Voltaggio is a twist on the classic dish using dry Kombu

Kombu is a common name from Japan for edible kelp, typically from Laminariaceae. Kombu is commonly available in stores, however, we always encourage exploration into using fresh seaweeds. If you know your collection requirements in your area, then go forage for some of your favorite kelp (remember none are harmful). If you are unaware of your local restrictions, you can always order other fresh seaweeds from Monterey Bay Seaweeds.


offshore vs. land-based seaweed farms, and why we went land.

Monterey Bay Seaweeds was the first land-based seaweed farm in California, possibly the entire United States, but why did we chose a land-based operation for growing seaweed?

As many of our readers will know, Dr. Graham is a tenured professor at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. The lab has it’s own seawater intake system that it also shares with their neighbor, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). By entering an equity partnership with the marine lab and San Jose State University, Monterey Bay Seaweeds was able to utilize the existing infrastructure for their aquaria and get to work.

Offshore and land-based seaweed farms differ almost in parallel to large agriculture farms and greenhouses. Offshore seaweed farms are less space limited, and are capable of producing vast quantities. Typically kelps, or other common species, are seeded on long lines and hung in the ocean until the harvest season. Once harvested, the product is typically dried and stored until sale. The seaweed is typically bought in bulk for various uses. Due to seasonal variability, offshore farms are difficult to operate year round. Nutrient availability or fluctuating temperatures can also hinder production. A few bad seasons and your farm might go under.

On the other hand, land-based seaweed farms don’t mass produce due to the high price of space. They can however, produce year round. Land-based farms can also grow species that are harder or impossible to grow on lines. Just like a common greenhouse, everything can be controlled. If the seawater intake starts pulling in water that is nutrient poor or too hot/ cold, the entire system could be switched to artificial seawater. It’s this control that would be critical if climate change continues at the current rate. If the oceans become more acidic or too hot, land-based aquaculture might be the only option.

The added benefit to producing year round, is that the product can be harvested at any time. We can sell our seaweed fresh, any day. Fresh seaweeds give the chefs more options on how to use the product. They can more freely play with the taste, texture, and shape when constructing a dish. If they desire, they can always dry seaweed, but when you re-hydrate it, it’s never the same as it was.

Eating brown seaweed can aid in weight loss

Jamie Oliver is a well known chef in the UK who is a strong advocate for cooking with seaweeds. Recently an article in Magenta reported that Jamie owed his own weight loss to eating more seaweed.

The science of which goes back to a study published in the journal of Food Chemistry (2014). The study found that alginate, a sugar derived from brown seaweeds, inhibited pancreatic lipase by a maximum of 72.2% (±4.1) with synthetic substrate (DGGR) and 58.0% (±9.7) with natural substrate. Concluding that eating brown seaweeds could potentially reduce the uptake of dietary triacylglycerol aiding in weight management.

Weight loss is just one more reason why more chefs are starting to use seaweeds in their dishes. Jamie lists a few seaweed incorporated recipes on his website that are free to use.

Below is a video featuring Jamie on the Daily Mail explaining why he believes seaweeds are such a good superfood.

It's national seafood month. Let's not forget seaweed.

It’s national seafood month!

seafood-platter-1232389_1920.jpg

When most people think of seafood the mental image of fish, lobster, and crab jump into their heads.

While fish are the number one ranking seafood by tons/year, this mental image is missing the second largest seafood market on the planet: seaweed. Did you know that global seaweed cultivation is more than twice the amount of crustaceans farmed and captured by weight? (FAO 2016). Over 31 million tons of seaweed is produced annually. Red seaweeds make up most of the global production (18.4 million tons), followed by brown seaweeds (10.5 million tons), and the rest is green seaweeds.

Red seaweeds are cultivated at the highest rates due to some industrial extracts (see carrageenan post) and valued flavor. We are all familiar with the taste of some red algae; nori is a commonly used red seaweed in the making of sushi rolls.

So next time you hear the word seafood, don’t forget the second largest seafood group: seaweeds.

Could you survive by only eating seaweed?

If you look at the nutrient label on the packaging of any food item, you would see the groups: calories, protein, carbohydrates, fat, sodium, and occasionally other items such as minerals. We are all familiar with calories being the amount of energy within the food. “Calorie counting” is a common practice for people looking to watch their weight, as consuming calories faster than you can metabolize them can lead to weight gain. However, without calories your body wouldn’t have energy to survive.

Calories in your diet come from fat, proteins, organic acids, and especially carbohydrates. Carbohydrate is an umbrella term for all types of sugar, starch, cellulose, and even dietary fiber. The sugars in most algae though, are not digestible by most humans. The sugars in most algae are known to be β(1→4) linkages in glucan polysaccharides. Most of the human population lacks the ability to digest these types of sugars as we are adapted to eat alpha(1→4) linkages in glucan polysaccharides (i.e. sucrose), and therefore, we don’t get the energy associated with these calories from most seaweed sugars.

There is one human population in Japan, however, that can digest these sugars. Apparently these Japanese have become hosts to common gut bacterium (Bacteroides plebeius) that exhibits polysaccharide-degrading enzymes. This is likely due to many generations of seaweed consumption and adaptation.

Just for fun, let’s see how much seaweed you would need to consume to get enough energy to survive. Assuming you are not Japanese, the only calories will be protein derived. The average person needs 2000 calories a day to maintain. You get about 4 calories per gram of protein. Now let’s use dulse as our reference seaweed. Dulse has 3.5% protein content. That means you would need to eat at least 31.49 pounds of dulse to satisfy your caloric needs. Now this is only in reference to calories, almost no single food item has all the nutrients the body needs for survival, so please don’t try this diet at home.

Which seaweeds are toxic?

You might occasionally hear about toxic algae in the news. Toxic algae will always be in reference to microalgae, or harmful algae blooms (HABs). HABs are responsible for shellfish poisoning and what are known as red tides. HABs can exist in salt or fresh water bodies and are toxic if consumed.

While seaweeds are classified as macroalgae. There are currently no known poisonous or toxic seaweeds in existence. There are a few seaweeds that produce acid (acidweed), but these are no more acidic than your own stomach acid and would not harm you if consumed.

Incredibly there are only 14 reported deaths ever linked to eating seaweed, and the reports state that it’s not the seaweed itself but bacteria that had grown upon the seaweed. We say incredible because there are huge populations (Japan, Korea, China) that consume raw seaweed daily, while in the USA there are 31 reported deaths by E. Coli every year.

Is seaweed the new superfood?

When it comes to superfoods, kale is king. Not only is kale nutrient rich, but affordable, sustainable, and versatile as well. People have become incredibly crafty, developing recipes such as pickled kale, kale nachos, kale cocktails, and even frozen kale cubes- the list goes on. For those of us looking for a little superfood variety, let’s turn our attention to seaweed.

Orlando style wrote an article comparing the USDA reported nutrient values of kale and seaweed. They explained that not only is seaweed twice as rich in nutrients, but also rich in iodine.

Where seaweed falls short is the lack of creative and interesting recipes. You just don’t see seaweed infused into dishes the way kale has in the last decade. We encourage people to experiment with seaweed, but if you don’t know where to start, the internet is becoming more robust in seaweed recipes. Currently our favorite cookbook is ‘Seaweed: A collection of simple and delicious recipes from an ocean of food’ by Claudia Siefert. Claudia recognizes seaweed as the new superfood and provides a range of simple to complex recipes using a variety of seaweeds that can be collected or purchased in the northern hemisphere.

Start experimenting, and we hope to start seeing seaweed used in fun new ways.

Of Carrageenan and Health

Image of Mazzaella laminarioides by M. Graham.

We’ve lost count of how many times we’ve been asked about carrageenan and it’s ability to cause cancer. Controversy swirls around this molecule and it’s easy enough to google ‘carrageenan’ to find calls for banning its use. For those of you unwilling to read the entire post, let us summarize that carrageenan does not cause cancer! Like any good conspiracy theory, the claim is built off of a grain of truth. A study referencing the wrong molecule exaggerated it’s effects and became sensationalized by the media. That study has been refuted numerous times by a variety of academic and government agencies. However, the damage was done, and the internet is a very unforgiving place for misguided information. We will review the uses, definitions, and conflicting studies behind this controversy.

What Is Carrageenan?

Carrageenan is a component of some red seaweeds most notably Chondrus crispus, also known as Irish moss. The molecule itself is a sugar, a polysaccharide to be exact. There are a variety of carrageenans that are described by their bonding configuration and molecular weights (Mw). These varieties, like most molecules, can take their shape through chemical processing to fulfill different functions. Typically, carrageenan refers to the sugar used in the food industry (Mw 200k-800k Da) as a thickening agent, and can be found in many common household items. The sugar is also non-digestible to humans (stay tuned for upcoming post) making it a sought after additive for low calorie sweets treats. Irish moss has been harvested for over 14,000 years for human consumption, and carrageenan has been used as a thickening agent since at least the 19th century.

Where is the grain of truth?

Dr. Joanne K. Tobacman is the most cited reference in carrageenan attacks. In 2001, she published a review of carrageenan and it’s effects on health in the journal of Environmental Health Perspectives. She cited a study from 1982 that linked degraded carrageenan (also known as carrageenan gum or poligeenan Mw 20k-40k Da) to cancer in lab animals. In her review she also cited a number of papers investigating degraded carrageenan causing intestinal inflammation leading to ulcers and lesions. In her paper, Dr. Tobacman suggested that the use of carrageenan be reviewed by the FDA and change the restrictions to the molecular weight requirements as a food additive.

The rebuttal

It turns out that the term carrageenan was misused in the previous studies. Dr. Myra L. Weiner published a paper refuting Dr. Tobacman in 2016 in the journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology called ‘Parameters and pitfalls to consider in the conduct of food additive research, Carrageenan as a case study’. Dr. Weiner’s followup paper in 2017 again stated the importance of defining the molecule in question and illustrated the root of the issue in regards to carrageenan. Dr. Weiner laid out the argument that previous studies misused the name carrageenan by confusing degraded carrageenan and poligeenan with non-degraded carrageenan, lacking fundamental understanding of physical/chemical and toxicological properties. Non-degraded carrageenan is used as a food additive, while degraded carrageenan and poligeenan are not. The process to degrade carrageenan requires high heat (95C) and acid (<1pH) which neither occur within the human body. Weiner concluded that the non-degraded form of carrageenan, typically refereed to simply as carrageenan, was perfectly safe for food use and it has continued to be used to this day.

Going forward

The FDA supports carrageenan use and classifies it as meeting organic standards. The EU has also re-evaluated carrageenan as safe, with a clear banning of poligeenan defined by molecular weights. However, there is still pressure to remove the sugar from commercial products. There are still hundreds of ‘nutrition/ health’ articles out there sounding alarm bells to not use products containing carrageenan.

We certainly understand the importance of understanding the food you are consuming, and it’s a shame that some companies have caused such distrust among consumers. There has been so much positive change recently to correct this consumer trust, but there is still a long way to go. The wealth of information on the internet is daunting and confusing when it comes to nutrition. We have embedded all the links to the actual publications and government reports within this post. You can read the letter from the FDA to Tobacman rejecting her petition to ban carrageenan.

TAKE HOME MESSAGE: The production of carrageenan is in fact another safe and positive reason to support the rise of seaweed farming in the US and globally. If you hear otherwise, you are probably reading an article recycling the misinformation described above. Always check with your source ….

Our dulse is being served in the #1 restaurant in the world- Eleven Madison Park.

We are proud to announce that Monterey Bay Seaweeds is being plated at Eleven Madison Park in NY. If you haven’t heard of them, Eleven Madison Park has been rated #1 on the top 50 restaurants in the world (2017) and has been given 4 stars from the NY Times.

We can’t wait to hear what Chef-owner Daniel Humm has planned for our dulse.

What makes the red abalone red?

The red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) obtained it’s name by the red coloring on it’s shell. If you look closely you can see bands of red and greenish-brown. Well you know the old saying, “you are what you eat.” It turns out that the abalone shell directly reflects what kind of algae it consumes. For that very reason the red abalone requires a diet rich in red seaweeds (Rhodophyta), otherwise the shell looks green and is harder to sell on the market as a red abalone.

Monterey Bay Seaweeds supplies red seaweed (ogo and dulse) for our friends at the Monterey Abalone Company. The seaweed is a special treat for the little molluscs, ensuring they are red, healthy, and delicious.

Here is a recent blurb from Justin Cogley, a local chef who uses our seaweed and abalone from the Monterey Abalone Company. You can visit his website at http://www.chefjustincogley.com/ for culinary news and recipes.