Wild Things


One of the more interesting items available at our farmers’ market these days is seaweed harvested from Maine. Before I even knew what I’d do with it, I had decided to pick some up, and I did just that a couple of Saturdays ago. The variety I chose is called dulse, which is, apparently, the “gateway” variety – mild and easy to work with, with a flavor that complements a variety of other ingredients. I’m told that some people in New England eat it like potato chips, popping crispy bits directly into their mouths as a snack, and after Mike and I tried it, I can see why: there’s something really familiar and satisfying about the taste and texture of it.

Deciding how to use it was a bit difficult for me. We had been told it could be sautéed with leafy greens like kale or spinach, or used in a soup or stir-fry, but I was a bit concerned about over-cooking it, rendering its unique character lost in the dish, so in the end I decided I would barely cook it at all, instead snipping it with kitchen shears and folding it into a mix of hot cooked rice and vegetables.

Our rice bowls were built on a base of organic wild and Wehani rices, cooked in the leftover porcini soaking liquid from Monday’s dinner until they were just tender, and then tossed with a drizzle of toasted sesame oil to lightly coat the grains. I added a mix of barely sautéed vegetables next: some sliced shiitake caps, grated carrot, thin slices of spring onion, and a handful of watercress. I tossed a good cup or so of chopped dulse in off the heat, stirring it through before spooning the mixture into our bowls, then I topped each serving with a sunny-side up egg, a sprinkle of salt, and some snipped scallion tops.

Dinner: March 3, 2009

The combination was really delicious, with the earthy rices and mushrooms providing a nice canvas for the little bursts of onion, sweet carrot, and the slightly salty and almost bacon-y dulse to shine against. The egg, when chopped up and stirred through, gave it all a nice creaminess. This first foray into cooking with seaweed was a big success, and I’m really eager to try new ways of incorporating it into our meals.

11 thoughts on “Wild Things

  1. samantha from maine says:

    Your Maine seaweed post is interesting to me as I have lived in Maine all my 40 years and have never eaten seaweed outside of a seaweed salad at a sushi restaurant! I’ve never even seen it at a farmer’s market here but I’m going to look for it now just to try it. I should point out though that I’m in the Portland area and not “Down East”…they do do things differently there…lol.

  2. Wonderful!

    You can also make jelly from it, though it’s very time-consuming. I have an old-time method in a book at home (hissed whisper: I’m at work!) about Cape Maly cookery. I’ll dig it out. I meant to do it in Cape Town with fresh seaweed, but didn’t get round to it.

  3. I love trying out new and exotic ingredients – it just makes cooking feel more adventuresome. I agree with Samantha that for the longest time I had only ever consumed seaweed through sushi but there really are so many more options for working with it. Try out this recipe for Dulse, Avocado and Tomato Sandwiches – the dulse really adds a nice saltiness to the sandwich. For other ideas for cooking with seaweed, check out these other recipes. Enjoy!

  4. lo says:

    I love that you’re trying out the sea veg! Dulse is just lovely, if you find the right applications for it. This is a great idea… can’t buy it at a WI farmer’s market, but I can definitely get it from our co-op.

  5. Christine says:

    I often cook kombu into pots of beans. It seems to have an enriching effect on the texture of the liquid and I love to eat the bits of it, reminds me of tendon in pho. It’s also really easy to make fresh dashi with kombu and bonito flakes.

  6. My favorite thing to do at Farmer’s Markets is to pick up random items and MAKE myself create some sort of dish by either researching or getting creative. I have never seen Dulse at our market. But, I am from Seattle, so maybe it is a regional thing.

  7. Do not fear the seaweed! In my (Korean) culture, seaweed is integral in many dishes. One of my (Caucasian) partner’s favorite dishes is a Korean seaweed soup that is at once brony, (clear) brothy, garlicky, and sesame-ish (from the bit of sesame oil floated on top). I make a veggie version since I am veggie, but most Koreans will make the broth with some lean beef to flavor it. We ladle it out into large bowls, plop some rice into it and dig in – its a whole meal!

  8. Jennifer Hess says:

    Thanks for all of the comments and ideas, everyone! I’m going to have a great time experimenting with the various types of seaweed available to us, I think.

  9. Really interesting! I particularly liked your instincts regarding how exactly to cook with it. It’s always a challenge to incorporate a new ingredient that’s way out of the norm of what one normally cooks with. Looking forward to seeing more seaweed recipes in the future!

    Casual Kitchen

  10. i love the photo. beautiful.
    i used to eat this stuff and then i stopped. you can also buy it a whole foods if you’re ever desperate for some. i am embarrassed to say that i just threw away a bag of this.
    i coulda used some new ideas. where were you when i needed you? that’s what i wanna know…

  11. Jennifer Hess says:

    Hi Dan – yeah, I like to keep things relatively simple to start with when I’m using a new ingredient. I’m really happy with how this turned out.

    claudia – Where was I? Slacking off, obviously! ;D

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