The latest gastronomic tendencies
I have always been attracted to this fabulous sea vegetable, fascinated by nature’s ability to give us its most precious treasure. As a fitness instructor for 15 years, the eagerness to give my body all the necessary minerals and vitamins which my muscles lacked from the continual wearing down, and always in constant search of what Nature can give us, without further ado, has lead to my interest in this New World.
Our World is 80% covered in the most fascinating seas with their stories and conquests, their myths and legends throughout the ages, they show us that the sea has always given us benefits, has led us to new horizons and today we are realising that its vegetables, seaweed, are starting to play a fundamental role in the European diet.
However, seaweed dates from many centuries ago, as documents from the year 600 show us. In areas such as Japan, its consumption makes up 25% of the diet. It is also true that the Japanese know how to hypnotise nature, control it in their dishes, making of every recipe a beautiful and philosophical aesthetic like a Zen garden.
The majority of edible seaweed belongs to one of these three groups: green algae, red algae and brown algae. Some of the ones that have the greatest culinary value are the varieties: kombu, wakame, iziki, arame, sea beans (brown); sea lettuce, aonori (green); and nori, agar-agar and dulse (red).
Depending on the variety, in food they work very well in soups, stews, salads, garnishing, oriental cuisine, teas, desserts, and even on pizzas. But what aromas and tastes does seaweed add? The three groups of seaweed share a basic salty-umami taste and they have in common scents that remind one of seafood and marine air, as well as notes of green tea and fish. Iodised notes are also frequent.
They have many important nutritional properties that change depending on the variety, but stand out in general for their high content of iodine and other minerals, as well as vitamins A, B, C and E, trace elements and fibre. When it is dried, it is a good source of protein. It possesses relevant antimicrobial properties and, in some cases, is a good substitute to salt. Physical-chemical qualities make it a good accompaniment in food as it can act as a gelling agent, thickener or flavour enhancer.
As well as its interesting nutritional properties, if it is becoming one of the super foods of the 21st century it is because it is abundant, it regrows quickly, it is easy to cultivate and is kept easily by drying. In a world in which fishing resources are overexploited, seaweed becomes a source of almost unlimited alternative alimentation although under control, since seaweed depends greatly on the marine ecosystem.
Here I leave you my experience and constant study on what nature can give us, without further ado. Silvia E. Van Hollebeke – Malaga 21st October 2015.