Has Britain really got an appetite for seaweed?


Has Britain really got an appetite for seaweed?

Has Britain really got an appetite for seaweed?

When people think of British food they normally think of it being pretty bland and stodgy or they think of the dishes which have been appropriated from other cultures. With this in mind, the
UK has started to harvest
seaweed commercially, as apparently there is demand for it. So will the humble
vegetable from the sea become as ubiquitous in British cooking as garam masala and balti paste or is this just a passing trend?

Japanese food as a whole is becoming more popular in the UK and high quality restaurants in London leading the charge towards seaweed. Those who collect seaweed need to have special permission from landowners and environment agencies, making it something of a delicacy.

Prices per kilogram can be as high as £200 and like diamonds, platinum and truffles before them, rarity helps to lead to a certain amount covetability. Add to that the fact that a number of scientists have been putting across the argument for seaweed as a miracle weight loss cure and you have yourself a trendy piece of vegetation.

Rory MacPhee is a forager who has just been granted a licence to gather seaweed from the queen via the
Crown Estate. He can understand its appeal and has pointed out the vegetable's versatility in a number of dishes. Mr MacPhee said: "Seaweed is rich in nutrients and extremely tasty - a lot of the top chefs are beginning to use it in their dishes. It can be used in soup and bread and its even a substitute for bacon when smoked."

So it seems that like most ingredients and indeed
green vegetables - it all depends on the preparation. If chefs can make the green gelatinous mass seem appealing then the supposed health benefits and seaweed's newfound trendy status may see it used more widely.

British diners are always looking for the next big thing or a new experience, and restaurants that incorporate the ingredient into their meals may find that it is popular. Bearing in mind that the cost will need to be passed onto the customer then it is important that those establishments that do use it make sure they are pitching at the right demographic.

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