‘It is vital that we boost our intake of Omega 3s – eat more fish!’ we are urged by nutritionists, deeply concerned at the dramatic imbalance between our intake of pro-inflammatory Omega 6 vegetable-based oils and anti-inflammatory Omega 3 fish oils. (It should be approximately 4:1 but is currently running at nearly 100:1)
But… ‘Fish stocks have been all but destroyed. If we are not to wipe out the remaining fish in the sea we must stop fishing NOW!’ cry marine conservationists.
So what are we to do? Well, if you listen to Professor Michael Crawford, international expert on brain function and nutrition, and heavy-duty Omega 3 enthusiast, it is quite simple. Farm the sea… They are already doing it in the far east and there is no reason why we cannot do so in the West too.
Well, along the Atlantic and North Sea coasts of Europe we have been doing just that for centuries… Ask Prannie Rhatigan…
Prannie grew up on the west coast of Ireland. As children, her father took her and her siblings seaweed harvesting, teaching them which crops came at what seasons and how to harvest them without damaging the plants. Back home she learnt how to cook the seaweeds fresh, or how to dry them for future use, how to use them as the main ingredient in a dish such as laver or sleabhac bread, sea spaghetti salad or, more recently, a seaweed smoothie, or as a flavouring in anything from a nut roast to a chocolate brownie.
Later, Prannie studied to become a doctor and learnt that seaweeds were not only delicious but wonderfully healthy, providing excellent nutrition and delivering preventative and therapeutic benefits as anti-viral, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory agents.
And now she has gathered together her own knowledge and experience, along with that of friends and colleagues, cooks, restaurateurs, fisherman and community gardeners in the Irish Seaweed Kitchen, a delightful 250 pages of recipes, seaweed lore, harvesting and storage advice, nutritional information – plus contact details for where those of us who are not lucky enought to live in the West of Ireland can buy seaweed. And all illustrated with hundreds of wonderful pictures.
We have reviewed the book on the FoodsMatter site where you will find recipes for risotto, seaweed hummus, chocolate brownies with nori and figgy pudding (an excellent alternative to a standard Christmas pud). But to tempt you further, here is Prannie’s (well, actually chef Eithna O’Sullivan’s) recipe for Prawns with land and sea spaghetti.
Interestingly, for those of you on wheat/gluten-free diets, Prannie herself never eats wheat . ‘I don’t think’, she says, ‘people understand how detrimental wheat is to health. I make everything for myself with rice flour and use spelt or rye for the rest of the family. Things can turn out a little flatter but I compensate by using an extra egg sometimes.’
So, although the Irish Seaweed Kitchen is not, technically, a ‘freefrom’ cookery book, many of the recipes are already ‘freefrom’ and where they are not, it is very easy to substitute gluten/wheat-free or dairy-free ingredients.
If you want to add the book to your own Christmas present list – or give it to someone else – check in to Prannie’s website, www.prannie.com, where you can buy the book for a mere €25 + €8.50–€15 P&P depending on where in the world you want it sent – or you can buy it from Amazon here.
N.B. I made Prannie’s Chocolate fondants with nori for supper last night – seriously delicious! The nori gave them a quite distinct, but interesting and moreish both texture and taste. In fact, I was so impressed that this morning I made Prannie’s Walnut and Nori Chocolate Brownies – but I substituted coconut oil for the butter, chestnut flour for the spelt and pecans for the walnuts, because I didn’t have any walnuts! She is right – they are to die for….
Sea spaghetti comes into season around St Patrick’s Day and turns green when cooked. A fun dish to celebrate the national holiday.
Recipe from Eltha O Sullivan, chef and cookery instructor.
20-30g dry weight sea spaghetti or approximately 250g if using fresh
250g (9oz) organic brown rice spaghetti (Rizopia do an excellent one)
1-2 tablespoons grape seed oil
2 Shallots or 1 small onion peeled and chopped finely
1 red chilli deseeded and chopped
500g (1lb 2oz ) jumbo peeled cooked prawns de-shelled fully thawed if from frozen and very well dried
1 teaspoon Thai 7 spice for stir-fry
25g(1oz) flat leaf parsley, chopped
25g (1oz) coriander leaves and stems chopped a dash of oyster sauce (check ingredients)
1 handful mixed sea vegetables soaked in hot water to barely cover for 2-3 extra coriander and parsley to garnish
Cook the sea spaghetti in a pot with plenty seasoned water for 15 minutes or until al dente. Cook the spaghetti in a separate pot of seasoned water for 10-12 minutes or until al dente.
Heat the oil in a frying pan over a moderate heat and sweat off the onions and garlic.
Add the chilli and cook for 1 minute Add the prawns, seasoning, herbs, oyster sauce and salt to taste.
Stir until the ingredients are heated through and well mixed, about 2-3 minutes. Drain the spaghetti and sea spaghetti and place in a warmed serving dish.
Add the contents of the frying pan, spices, seasoning, mixed sea vegetables and their hot soaking water.
Stir gently to mix check seasoning and serve on warm plates sprinkled with chopped coriander and parsley.
Try Kate’s favourites which is a spaghetti bolognaise recipe of your choice and a mix of spaghetti and sea spaghetti as above
600g of prawns serves 5 adults and small garden peas can be added as an extra vegetable portion.
Cut/down chilli if cooking for children.