Nadia Pendleton helps us find superfood feasts on the shores of Cornwall, with forager Rachel Lambert.
Samphire has made it to the supermarket shelf, Nori and Kombu are no longer confined to the realm of Japanese cuisine. You too can explore the shores and enjoy the fruits and vegetables of the Cornish seaside. Expert forager Rachel Lambert shares her top tips for getting the best from the shoreline while Tim and Caroline from the Cornish Seaweed Company share the secrets of delicious seaweed for the table.
Rachel Lambert has been teaching foraging and running wild food courses since 2007. She has featured on This Morning and regularly shares her knowledge, skills and passion. Rachel explains: “Foraging can be anything from a spontaneous, in the moment, experience to an endless, life-long topic if you want it to be.” The key is to be sensitive to nature and help maintain its beauty. The coast is rich pickings, though it should always be done sustainably. Enjoy plants like rock samphire, sea spinach, sea radish, sea sandwort (only on the south coast) and black mustard.
Rachel’s new book Wild Food Foraging in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is a handy size to keep in your backpack, introducing us to a range of delectable picks including; flowers, fruits, leaves, seeds, shoots and seaweeds. Caroline’s pick of the seaweeds are:
Carrageen / Irish Moss Chondrus crispus and Gigartina stellata
A mild taste of the sea, though when naturally bleached the flavour becomes more neutral. Used as thickener and setting agent, ideal for panna cotta, mousse or thick soups. It grows up to 15 cm tall/wide, as is flat, with wide fronds branching into two. It’s redish-purple to olive green in colour.
Gutweed/Sea Grass Ulva/Enteromorpha intestinalis
A light, green, fresh taste, a little herby when dried. Perfect for salads or deep fried. Bright green, grass like, long tubes, 15-80cm long.
Kelp / Laminaria digitata
Creates a delicate, warming stock, a thicker texture and meatier body. Wonderful for watery or noodle soups. A brown seaweed, 1-3m in length, with branches like thick fingers.
Sea Lettuce / Ulva lactuca
A slightly more iron taste to gutweed, with more bite and texture, and very pleasant added into bread, pan-fried as a side vegetable or added into stir-fries. Looks like a bright green lettuce.
These naturally complement a platter of shellfish: oysters, winkles, cockles, spider crabs, scallops and razor clams being some firm favourites. All shellfish can be eaten, though as with seaweed, check the water quality and pick away from sources of pollution.
Caroline Warwick Evans and Tim have a deep love of the Cornish coast; its beauty and bounty. Three years ago the renewable energy engineer and conservation biologist returned to Cornwall and ended up working as a cleaner and waiter. Seeing a gap in the market for British grown seaweed they
set up The Cornish Seaweed Company, providing sustainably harvested, local, edible seaweed for chefs and general consumers. Their aim is to introduce these as an alternative food source that is healthy, nutritional, tasty, and good for the environment. Their products are popping up in delis and shops around the region but you can also buy online.
Caroline believes seaweeds are the most powerful food that we have on this planet. “They contain all the minerals that our body needs and has the highest number of vitamins, minerals and trace elements of any other food group. It’s not only delicious; it is good for you too.”
A few of The Cornish Seaweed Company’s favourite edible Seaweeds:
Oceany, hints of sweetness, soft-velvet texture. It works as a flavour enhancer to fish dishes, curries, soups, bread, chowders and salads. It can be eaten straight from the ocean and when dried it makes an excellent on-the-move snack.
Kombu, the Japanese name for Kelp, is probably most well known for the unique effect it has on the taste buds, which the Japanese call Umami. It is used to make broths and serves as a base ingredient in stocks which adds real depth to your dishes. Perfect for a fish soup or stew.
The black long strands look like fine spaghetti but it has an asparagus-like taste and texture when eaten raw after soaking. Fairly strong, shellfish-like when cooked, it adds beefy flavour to soups and stews.
Sea greens are the base for the famous crispy fried seaweed. However, its uses are much more varied. With a fresh, sorrel-like flavour, they can be eaten raw in salads, lightly boiled or steamed for use as a vegetable, or blended into smoothies and superjuices.
THE CORNISH SEAWEED COMPANY
Higher Argal Farm, Budock, Falmouth TR11 5PE
RACHEL LAMBERT, WILD FOOD FORAGING