Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Nutritional Nuggets - Seaweed For Wave Riders

"You are what you eat" - according to an old native American Indian saying. The fact that it aint' a ham & cheese toastie typing this somewhat disproves the idiom, but these days, most of us understand there's a connection between what you eat and how you perform.

But hold off the dietary dissertation and let me cut to the chase - go eat some seaweed! Not just any old bit of kelp mind you. I'm talking about Rhodymenia palmata otherwise known as Dulse (pronounced where it counts as "dullus").

All around our shores is a rich resource of this fabulous free seafood that only a select few are aware of (and they're mainly from Ballywalter).There's enough in a handful of this stuff to provide all of your daily Vitamin B6 , iron requirements and over 50% of the recommended B12 intake. Who needs those Vitamin supplements at rip-off prices, eh? (NB: Spike - great for pregnant ladies!)

There's a few things you need to know about getting your hands on this "wunder-weed". Traditionally, it is collected between March and September at low tide from exposed rocky outcrops normally submerged. A small, distinctive leafed weed with a purple hue when wet, it is easily plucked from its rocky home.

Photo courtesy of Laurie Murison

Take care not to pull off the holdfast and all of the fronds so it can continue to grow and you can harvest again. Best then to just spread the booty out to dry in the sun - but you can take it indoors and let it dry out there. It should become a crisp, almost brittle material and will be covered in part with fine crystals of sea salt. Don't worry if it's a little bit moist though, some like it that way too.

Store it somewhere dry in plastic bags for a week or two. Perfect for a nibble on the beach with your sarnie and a brew. Of course you can get creative and use it in a wide variety of recipes. If you can't wait until next year's harvest, you could try these folks for a sampler.

I'm not going to try and describe the taste. Bit of a Marmite / Vegemite experience for some - you either love it or loathe it. One word of warning, don't eat too much before taking on a pint or three of Guinness. There's some sort of gaseous reaction that goes on there that can clear a pub in minutes. Trust me on that...

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