Seaweed. Salty, surprising…. shots ?

So Seaweed, an often overlooked plant could be making waves in the cocktail world. Is use in cuisine of the far east is down to its savouriness. the property known as umami , is down to the high content of essential minerals such as Iron and Iodine as well as the complex nature of carbohydrates in seaweeds.

Seaweed is itself not a plant int he conventional sense, it can be thought of almost as a large structured algae colony. reasearch has payed limited interest in Seaweed, especially in Europe, however as algaes we’re some of the first plants to evolve they can tell us alot about evolution by comparing them to land dwelling plants.It is thought that because seaweed  found its niche so early on, it has become one of the most successful marine plants, and its very un-picky nature means it can be found across the world’s oceans.

From giant kelp forests in the open oceans to minuscule leafy slimes stuck under the piers and marinas of seaside towns these algaes have proliferated and proven their use. In the far east and less so here in Europe seaweeds have been used for cuisine as well as more technical applications. The ,mix of carbohydrates such as agarose which is used in biotechnology for gels which can separate strands of DNA. this can also be used in the manufacture of vegetarian jelly and other gels. Other cell wall components can be used to thicken sauces and play with food texture.

By boiling the seaweed we can also unlock the more interesting flavours form the seaweed. the dry savouriness which is analogous to flavours such as Marmite and oysters can be used in cocktails too. One creation from Tony Conigliario, and the team at 69 Colebrooke row has been a Bloody Mary with seaweed garnish, this was based on dashi, a japanese seaweed based stock. Ice creams have also been creates with reportedly remarkably sophisticated combinations of flavours including dry and fragrant notes.

The complex sugars are also potentially very useful  for biofuel industries ass the large carbon chains are rich in energy which, if it can be efficiently digested may prove a valuable resource in low carbon technologies.

It just goes to show that even ugly plants are amazing, some of my colleagues have been slowly changing my opinions on plant sciences over the past few months, and I finally concede they have a point, plants really are interesting, and without them Life simply wouldnt exist.


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