I don't know about you, but any time I'm at the beach I become absolutely enchanted by seaweed and all its wondrous textures and colors. I start wondering how it grows and, most of all, wishing I knew which ones were edible! Ole G. Mouritsen's Seaweeds is my new companion this summer, a perfect guide for those of us who love cooking, nature, and science.
• Who wrote it: Ole G. Mouritsen
• Who published it: The University of Chicago Press
• Number of recipes: about 60
• Recipes for right now: Green pea soup with scallops and seaweeds, Quinoa salad with dulse, Lemon cake with sea lettuce, Nereo tea with umeboshi, Kelp chips, Fresh shrimp with pickled sea lettuce and beach herbs (recipe from René Redzepi of Noma)
• Other highlights: Seaweeds is not quite an academic book, not quite a field guide, and not quite a cookbook — it's the best of all worlds. Author Ole G. Mouritsen is a professor of biophysics with an interest in the science of cooking, and the book incorporates biology, ecology, history, and gastronomy. I especially enjoyed the images throughout, from seaweed specimens at the Natural History Museum in London to examples of seaweed in art and pictures of seaweed harvesting around the world.
I thought I ate a fair amount of seaweed — ingredients like nori, kombu, and agar are among my pantry staples — but after reading this book, my culinary horizons just got a lot broader. I love the idea of incorporating nutritious seaweed into more dishes from breads to snacks, drinks, desserts, and more. Most of the recipes draw upon Japanese tradition, but there are nods to other cultures with recipes for traditional Welsh laverbread and new Scandinavian cuisine, plus fun ideas like making pesto with kelp and pairing seaweed with cheese — an umami explosion!
• Who would enjoy this book? cooks with an interest in seaweed, Japanese cuisine, foraging, marine science, sustainability, and/or nutrition
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: Seaweeds: Edible, Available & Sustainable by Ole G. Mouritsen
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(Images: Emily Han)