If you’re not ready to cook with kelp but are interested in trying a bite or two, here are some prepared seaweed products worth seeking out.
A compound butter that combines seaweed, cultured butter and sea salt, this is wonderful melted over boiled potatoes, stirred into pasta or rice, dolloped over roasted vegetables, chicken and especially seafood. I love it smeared on warm bread and topped with smoked salmon. Bordier makes a fine one, imported from Brittany in northwestern France and available at gourmet shops. And Beurre de la Mer, made from Vermont Creamery butter and a mix of seaweeds, is available from The Chef’s Warehouse.
Dried seaweed mixed with a variety of aromatic teas makes for a heady, fragrant beverage. The tea is available at Cup of Sea, based in Portland, Maine. I am particularly fond of the green tea-dried kelp combination.
Added to wheat flour, dried seaweed makes a highly nutritious pasta with a salty bite.
This salsa from Barnacle Foods is a good gateway product for anyone who is interested in eating seaweed but is still a little unsure. The seaweed gives salsa a gentle saline flavor that harmonizes with the tomatoes and chiles but doesn’t overwhelm them.
Made in Alaska from bull kelp, a variety with a thick stem that has the texture of green pepper, these crunchy pickles come in two flavors: dill and curry.
A friend and I finished an entire jar of sea-chi, a spicy, piquant tangle of kelp and other vegetables from Atlantic Sea Farms, in one sitting.
Once I started snacking on whole leaf, dried seaweed, I couldn’t stop. It’s salty and sweet, and it satisfies that urge for potato chips.
Red dulce is the mildest; whole leaf alaria (wakame) is more savory. You can also use it for cooking, rehydrating them and adding them to soups, stews and salads. Flaked and powdered dried seaweed is great for sprinkling on popcorn.
Maine Sea Coast Vegetables is a classic brand that’s available in natural food stores across the country or by mail order, and Ocean’s Balance is a newer company that offers a variety of dried seafood products.
Everything Bagel Seaweed Seasoning
Flecks of seaweed can be mixed into the usual Everything Bagel seasoning in the most delightful way, adding an umami tang. I love this version from Barnacle Foods sprinkled on buttered crackers, eggs and avocado toast.
This classic Japanese seasoning, a blend of sesame seeds, dried fish, sugar, salt and dried seaweed, is good on everything, especially rice and cooked fish, where it obviates the need for a sauce or other garnish. Sprinkle it on roasted salmon, add a squirt of lemon and dinner is done.
Aimed at the vegan market, seaweed jerky is high in protein, with a chewy-crisp texture, and available in three flavors from Akua.