When I first started this business it was said that there were over 750 species of seaweed in our seas around the UK, now “they” are saying there are over 1000.
Just imagine going to your local store which stocked 1000 new ingredients that you have never seen, felt, smelt or tasted. That is what cooking with seaweed is like; as a cook I don’t think there is any other type of food that can offer so many 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 my favourite but that won’t stop me searching the world of seaweed, as sometimes you find a seaweed that simply stops you in your tracks. Pepper Dulse is one of those seaweeds.
Pepper Dulse (Osmundea Pinnatifida) tastes like no other seaweed, it is nicknamed “the truffle of the Sea” and with good reason; it has an intense truffle/mushroom flavour that simply does not belong in a 2cm long frond of seaweed.
It lives in the mid to low tide between rock encrusted barnacles which makes picking it a 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 but when picking Pepper Dulse for some reason it is different.
So every now and then during the summer madness of Café Môr @ Freshwater West I make time 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 as how stopper at Café Mor. Melted on fresh pasta, risottos, pan fried fish, shellfish, it just works.
Pepper Dulse fronds are small and a nightmare to pick which means it doesn’t lend itself to being a “commercial” product. Even if you take the time to harvest and clean it, you have to use it straight away as my experience of drying it never captures the flavour of it when it is fresh. The best way we have discovered is to use it either fresh or to mix it with butter to preserve the flavour.
So until now it has always remained a special at Café Môr. In my eyes a modern classic needs to be shared and though it doesn’t make any business sense, sometimes you just have to share something that is truly special.
SeaTruffle Butter is now on sale online, hours were spent harvesting it, stocks are limited, we will very likely run out of it quickly and certainly won’t make any money on it, but I really hope you enjoy it.
Some food just simply needs to be shared.
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