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Foraging for Seaweed

There is a Russian fairytale that surmises that the humbly stationed salt may be the most valuable substance known to humankind. Salt is indeed vital and its nourishment is essential, but taste and flavour are what elevates it, giving it an important place in ritual and pleasure.

Salt is best used with modesty, restraint and respect. It is not to be underestimated or given a third precedence. Its role is as the ultimate accompanier - an understated yet charismatic companion that can make every other flavour shine and glisten.

Seaweed is continually birthed in the sea. Spores and gametes perform their magic and produce fronds and stems of surprising diversity all the while immersed in swirling salt rich water. Itis the perfect combination: the wisdom and charisma of ancient salt and the fresh potent life force of seaweed. No wonder it’s becoming increasingly popular as a prestigious ingredient.

Seaweed in general has 75% less sodium than salt but is packed full of magnesium, potassium and all the trace elements needed for good health and growth. Dried Seaweed flakes are readily available in most major supermarkets and health food shops and can be sprinkled into your favourite recipes, cooked or raw.

Bring something ancient and cutting edge to the table today - here are a few simple varieties of seaweed and accompanying recipes you can try, bringing the ancient sea and cutting edge cuisine onto your own plate.

Irish Moss

Irish Moss - Chondrus Crisps: Colour can vary, predominantly black/dark chocolate but also appears in reds and whites.

False Irish Moss - Mastocarpus stellatus: Colour rarely varies from black/dark chocolate and goes a slushy green when cooked.

Both varieties are most often be found in the mid to lower inter-tidal zone. Grows up to 5cm - 15cm in small clumps with obvious branching of fronds. The fronds have a distinctive channeling of their tips. Female plants often have lots of small bumps or ‘nipples’. 

Both types of Irish Moss are available most of the year, and are especially good in Autumn.

Preparing and storing

  • Taken straight from the sea Irish Moss will last in the fridge for 5 days or more
  • Always rinse well before use
  • Irish Moss dries well in small batches when placed in mesh bags left with good airflow


  • Can be used fresh or dried. Double recipe quantities when using fresh Can be used as a thickener and stabilising agent in cooking as well as for flavour/taste.
  • Popular as the thickener for Carragheen puddings
Irish Moss Seaweed Jennifer Booher

Irish Moss - Chondrus Crisps


False Irish Moss - Mastocarpus stellatus

Simple Irish Moss drink


  • 8-10g dry Irish Moss 
  • 1 litre of water
  • Lemon
  • Honey


  1. Rinse the Irish Moss and remove any shells or Bryozoa
  2. Place in a pan with the water and allow to soak for 10 minutes.
  3. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes. 
  4. Strain the mixture through a sieve.
  5. Add lemon and honey to taste and drink while warm.

* Blackberry or any sweet syrup can be used instead of lemon and honey.

Sea Lettuce - Ulva lactuca

The leaves are always translucent often with ruffled edges. It comes in various shades of green but most often a distinctive bright green, retaining its colour when cooked.

Found in all parts of the inter-tidal area. Flat sheets can grow up to more than 40cms.

Sea lettuce is available from spring into autumn

Preparing and storing

  • Can be stored in the fridge ‘as is’ - straight from the sea for up to 3-5 days before rinsing.
  • After 5 days max, leaves should be well rinsed in fresh water to remove sand and shells.
  • Pat leaves dry after rinsing and store in airtight container in the fridge, should keep for a further 3-4 days.
  • If dried the leaves will last indefinitely.


  • Can be used fresh or dry in stews, soups etc until the leaves start to fall apart.
  • Dried and crushed the leaves can be used as a seasoning.
  • Fresh, thinly sliced leaves can be served raw with a light dressing or pickled.
  • Easily toasted, roasted, grilled or fried as a side dish lightly dressed with oil or fat.
  • The leaves are particularly good when used with oriental flavours and umami flavours.

Sea Lettuce - Ulva lactuca

Sea lettuce Dolma


  • Fresh Sea lettuce.
  • Filling of your choice – we recommend polenta cake, dried Dulse flakes, wild fennel with a touch of lentil and tomato sauce or any traditional asian dumpling or mediterranean dolma filling.


  1. Lay out a fresh leaf of Sea lettuce.
  2. Use several leaves laid on top of each other if the leaves are to small.
  3. Put in your desired filling. Fillings need to be of a dry consistency. Ensure the filling is roughly in the centre of the leaf, do not over fill.
  4. Roll once then tuck in the sides around the filling before continuing to roll into a tight parcel.
  5. Gently panfry or roast until the sea lettuce is crisp and has tightened together.

Garnish as an entree or as an accompaniment with a main meal.

Dabberlocks - Alaria esculenta

Olive or yellow-brown coloured fronds 1- 4 m long and 7.5 - 25 cm wide with a distinct mid-rib.

Found growing on rocks in clumps with individual fronds, most often found in the lower intertidal zone but occasionally higher up in rock pools.

Season - Mid Spring
Preparing and storing

  • Can be stored in fridge ‘as is’ straight from the sea for up to 3-5 days.
  • After 5 days max, leaves should be well rinsed in fresh water to remove sand and shells.
  • Best air dried whole and re-constituted in water before use.
  • Mid-rib is tough when dried and should be removed beforehand use unless using as a stock.


  • Can be used fresh or dry for dashi stocks, and then should be dis-carded.
  • Blades without mid-rib and can be toasted, roasted, grilled, fried or dried and flaked for use as a seasoning.
  • Blades can be used for Dolma as very similar to sea lettuce once the mid-rib is removed.
  • Whole leaves can be used as an alternative to tinfoil for wrapping joints of meat, fish or vegetables.

Dabberlocks - Alaria esculenta

Seaweed baked potato cooked in a fire pit with runny egg (zero waste).


  • Large baking potato
  • 1 egg
  • Whole dabberlocks fronds


  1. Slicing the top off the potato, carefully carve out the inside. Keep the top.
  2. Break the egg into the hollow potato
  3. Replace the potato top / lid.
  4. Wrap in two layers of dabberlocks seaweed fully covering the potato. Use small sticks or wooden skewers to secure in place.
  5. Place the wrapped potato parcel safely into the hot coals of an open fire
  6. Allow approximately 15 minutes for the potato to turn soft. Turn once during cooking if the fire is hotter on one side
  7. Remove from fire and allow to cool slightly
  8. Peel away the burnt seaweed. Potato should be cooked and soft, with the egg runny inside.

Slice in half and serve as desired.

Any waste can go straight into the compost.

East Neuk Seaweed

East Neuk Seaweed aim to excite, educate and empower people to reduce environmental impact by eating wild, locally produced and seasonal food, conducting tours of the local landscape and thoughtfully sourcing produce. They work closely with local food, conservation and community projects, highlighting the positive links and interconnection between our wellbeing and planetary health.

For more information about East Neuk seaweed or to come on a tour to learn more about foraging wild seaweed please contact Jayson Byles at