The Truffle of The SeaMonday 29th January 2018
When Ifirst started this business it was said that there were over 750 species ofseaweed in our seas around the UK. Now “they” are saying there are over 1000species.
Justimagine going to your local store which stocked 1000 new ingredients that youhave never seen, felt, smelt or tasted. That is what cooking with seaweed islike; as a cook I don’t think there is any other type of food that can offer somany food adventures. If you tried a different seaweed everyday it would take almost3 years. By the time you finished they might have discovered another 250 more.
As aWelshman, laver seaweed is part of my culinary DNA and for me will always be myfavourite but that won’t stop me searching the world of seaweed, as sometimesyou find a seaweed that simply stops you in your tracks. Pepper Dulse is one ofthose seaweeds.
PepperDulse (Osmundea Pinnatifida) tastes like no other seaweed, it isnicknamed “the truffle of the Sea” and with good reason; it has an intensetruffle/mushroom flavour that simply does not belong in a 2cm long frond ofseaweed.
It livesin the mid to low tide between rock encrusted barnacles which makes picking ita pain in the bum, a bit like picking gorse flowers or reluctant sloe berries.Patience for this type of thing is not the strongest part of my character butwhen picking Pepper Dulse for some reason it is different.
So everynow and then during the summer madness of Café Môr @ Freshwater West I maketime to nip down to pick a handful to mix with Welsh butter and cook away.Pepper Dulse in flavour terms is a modern classic, truly unique and always ashow stopper at Café Mor. Melted on fresh pasta, risottos, pan fried fish,shellfish, it just works.
PepperDulse fronds are small and a nightmare to pick which means it doesn’t lenditself to being a “commercial” product. Even if you take the time to harvestand clean it, you have to use it straight away as my experience of drying itnever captures the flavour of it when it is fresh. The best way we havediscovered is to use it either fresh or to mix it with butter to preserve theflavour.
So untilnow it has always remained a special at Café Môr. In my eyes a modern classicneeds to be shared and though it doesn’t make any business sense, sometimes youjust have to share something that is truly special.
SeaTruffle Butter is now on sale online, hours were spent harvesting it, stocksare limited, we will very likely run out of it quickly and certainly won’t makeany money on it, but I really hope you enjoy it.
Some foodjust simply needs to be shared.
by The Captain