Seaweed is a popular food in Asia, but not so popular in western countries. In the UK we usually eat it with sushi or with a Chinese takeaway and new research says that seaweed is unexploited here. It used to be eaten by coastal people since prehistoric times and has 145 species of green, brown and red seaweed which are used as food worldwide, but not so much in the UK.
Professor Ole Mouritsen from the University of Southern Denmark says, “We’ve forgotten to eat seaweed.”
In Korea, Japan and China, seaweed has for centuries been part of an everyday diet and demands are high.
According to new research in the journal, Trends in Food Science and Technology, despite us embracing sushi, eating seaweed is “minimal”.
Mouritsen says it’s because people do not like the thought of eating something washed up and smelling on the seashore. He says, “You wouldn’t go to an orchard and eat the rotting food on the ground”.
However, his research suggests that it’s time we took notice of seaweed and embraced it as an important food. He says, “There’s a whole world of algae out there that can be developed”.
Only around 35 species of seaweed have been used for cooking in the UK, even though the UK waters hold about 630 species. Therefore, there is plenty of untapped potential, agrees Fergus Drennan, trained chef and forager.
He says, “If you were absolutely genius in the kitchen you could probably push that figure up to about 90
“We have a coastline that’s almost as big as the coastline of Japan, which is the greatest seaweed-eating culture in the world… we’ve got as many varieties but we just don’t use it.”
Seaweeds have natural antioxidants such as polyphenols and have a high amount of minerals such as calcium. They are also high in both soluble and insoluble dietary fibres.
Protein from seaweed content ranges between 7-35% of its dry weight, although some species contain as much as 47% protein, such as “nori”.
At QuoteSearcher, we think that it would be good to see seaweed on more menus so we can try it, as it’s not something that many of us are familiar with cooking! What do you think? Would you eat seaweed?