Posts Tagged ‘recipe’
Edible Sea Vegetable: SeaWeed
I confess, my kitchen turns into edible science experiments almost every day. Seaweed is my new ingredient in the kitchen lab. Once you get to know the nutritional facts and the familiar taste of popcorn it has when nori (a type of seaweed) is roasted on the fire, then you’ll definitely give this superfood a chance. When I first moved to Cape Town, I was mesmerised by the huge kelp forests that were washed onto the shorelines. On low tides, I observed the variety of seaweeds that clung to the rocks and naturally wondered, “Can we eat that?” You’ve probably already have if you’ve gone to a sushi joint or visit the snack aisle at an Asian supermarket. When we see an ingredient in it’s natural state – outside of a food product/market/restaurant, we’re often surprised by how it grows, what it looks like and what it may actually taste like? This is what I call the spark of our own natural whole food education, also known as the moment when our culinary linguistics expand. I’m a self proclaimed phyco-nerd. Phycology: Greek φῦκος, phykos, “seaweed”; and -λογία, -logia) is the scientific study of algae and was so happy to find fellow wild food foragers on the Cape Peninsula.
Beyond Basic Nutrition: Seaweed Benefits
Contains vitamin B12 (which is rarely found in plants)
- Rich in iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, manganese (overall 13 vitamins, 20 amino acids, 60 trace mineral elements)
- Highest source of plant protein and zero calories
- It’s fiber is helpful for the digestive system, making you feel full and satiated
- Contains iodine which aids the function of the thyroid to release iodine in our blood to help prevent disease. Our bodies don’t make iodine so we have to get it through our food – why not seaweed?
- Reduces water retention and contains higher levels of calcium than beef and cow’s milk
- Natural occurring sodium that resembles human amniotic fluid
- Alkalinizes and purifies blood as it’s chemical composition is similar to the plasma in human blood
- Optimum nourishment for hormonal, lymphatic, urinary and nervous systems
Marine Flora: Wild and Crazy?
I was honestly hesitant to harvest seaweed in South Africa before doing a bit of research. I needed a bit of local knowledge to boost my confidence and to verify that I wasn’t the only crazy who wondered about eating ocean algae. If people in other parts of the world have seaweed-based cuisine, why aren’t we eating it here? Has there ever been a history of it in South Africa? Stay tuned for more about that in a future post.
I took my mom, one of my favorite foragers for whole foods, to Scarborough to learn more about the beautiful seaweed varieties available for us to harvest responsibly. In the quest of learning to harvest wild food, you also develop a respect and knowledge for conserving the ocean environment. I’ve found that becoming more aware of what makes a healthy flourishing balanced ecosystem allows me to make more educated decisions about harvesting and foraging wild foods in nature.
Some Foraging Facts
The Good Hope Nursery in Scarbororgh did such a great job in creatively sharing their experience in sustainably harvesting, tasting and creating with ocean seaweed. It was great to ask questions while enjoying the cosmetic and nutritional benefits of this sea vegetable. We were greeted on the shoreline with seaweed scones and spoke about the red, green and brown varieties of seaweed below our feet. Snippets of seaweed varieties such as kelp, wrack and ulva were gathered to ensure regrowth, conservation and abundance for our ecosystem (about 1/3 of what was growing on the rock near the tideline.) No random bits of floating seaweed was harvested, only healthy clean varieties that were attached to ocean rocks.
Edible Science: Seaweed Recipes
Since that positive coastal foraging experience, I’ve been able to share what I’ve learned along the way, convincing brave and even unadventurous eaters to enjoy the tasty healthy benefits of sea vegetables. On a recent trip to Elandsbaai, we harvested, rinsed and tossed nori in a bit of olive oil before placing it on a wood-burning fire. The result was super flakey, crunchy, tasty green seaweed snack. Get creative and incorporate seaweed in any of your favorite recipes for extra added health benefits. I’d love to hear more about what you discover.
- Two Oceans: A guide to the marine life of southern Africa
- Sustainable Seaweed Cooking by Prannie Rhatigan
- Healing Wise – A Wise Woman’s Herbal by Susun Weed
This Nori (seaweed) wrap recipe is an alternative to spring rolls. It’s perfect for getting a balance of essential vitamins into your diet. It’s also delicious and beautiful to share at picnics and parties. It pleases: vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and my dad who likes to live on garlic and lamb chops will even chow these as a snack.
Be creative with your ingredients and substitute with what you have fresh around you and what’s in season. I used what was at the farmer’s market and what happened to be growing in the garden, and fresh ingredients already in our kitchen. Perhaps drinking 8 glasses of water a day isn’t necessary when we eat predominantly fresh and raw meals throughout the day. This recipe won’t disappoint.
What you need:
Packet of 10 or more Sushi Nori (Seaweed) Sheets.
Put in a food processor or finely chop:
1 medium sized red pepper
1 medium sized yellow pepper
1 medium sized carrot
1/2 cup sprouted mung beans
5 baby broccoli stalks
5 small kale leaves (dinosaur or black)
5 Nasturtium leaves
Avocado (add it later instead of putting it in the processor)
1/2 apple to add a juicy sweet taste
1 TB Korean bean paste for a savoury flavour
1/4 cup cooked rice vermicilli noodles
1/4 cup fresh papaya or mango (not too ripe)
Any type of sprouts: sunflower, lentils, etc
* If you add tomatoes or lemon juice, the moisture from the filling will cause the nori sheet to be too wet and break. If this happens, just double the nori sheets.
2 TB Mirin sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
1/4 tsp fresh green chili (optional)
Take out one sheet of Nori paper and lay it down on the smooth side of a plate. Take about 1/3 cup of the finely chopped vegetables and spread it around on the bottom half (4 inches-10cm) of the nori, leave an inch (3 cm) on each side. There should be about 5 inches of clean nori on top. Fold the 3 cm on each side towards the middle of the nori sheet and start rolling the length of the nori towards the top keeping the filling tight and together and the sides tucked in. Essentially it is a similar technique to roll a spring roll or burrito. As the nori sheet rolls to the top, and the filling is wrapped under the nori, dampen the top of the nori that is laying flat on the plate and roll the rest of the nori toward the damp part, sealing the roll into a perfect little edible nori wrap.
To skip the rolling technique, make a cone out of the nori and then spoon and pack the finely chopped vegetable filling inside.
Place dipping sauce in a small bowl. Cut the spring roll nori wraps in the middle and arrange them on a plate or platter with the dipping sauce. Taste one and then serve them immediately!
Mom would say, “Only eat 8 olives a day, honey.” But it was too easy to devour the salty Grecian delights by the dozen. With crusty brown sourdough bread and green virgin olive oil on a flat side plate, nothing satisfied me more than eating Yiayia’s Kalamatas olives in the middle of Chicago’s winter. To this day, I have a plate solely dedicated to olives and their pips and snack on these pickled fruits year round (and still by the dozen).
Growing up, I’d spin the bottom shelf of the cupboard to reveal Yiayia’s hand-picked, home-cured Kalamata olives. Purple, green and maroon olives floated in one gallon glass jars of oregano, thyme, vinegar and oil. As a kid, I was powerlifting the heavy 2 gallon olive jar off the bottom shelf and onto the counter in order to dip my tiny fingers into the oil and vinegar brine to search for the juiciest olives. As I got older, I’d use an oversized spoon to fish for the tangiest Kalamatas, and strain the brine from the spoon to reveal my bite-size snacks. When May arrived, it got harder for the spoon to fish for olives at the bottom of the jar. I’d spend the whole year snacking on the cured fruits and diminished our Greek food provisions we would smuggle in from Greece. The empty olive jar was an indicator that it wouldn’t be long before we would pack our dresses and sandals for the summer at Yiayia’s house. Mom would pack a suitcase within a suitcase when we travelled to Athens. In August, we would return to Chicago with more olives to fill the jar, and enough oregano to make the beagles sniff us out as drug smugglers.
Now, when May arrives I pick 10-20 kilos of Mission Olives around Cape Town, South Africa. My childhood love for enjoying home-cured olives, fills my own cupboards with a cultural joy and salty olive treats to share in memory of my grandmother’s tradition.
Every step of the curing processes makes me wonder of when and how people discovered this ancient practice.
Was it Athena’s olive tree branch that broke off during an autumn storm? The branch that fell into the river bed and carried it for weeks into the salty estuary of Poseidon’s sea. For weeks it may have soaked along the shores until a small family fishing boat arrived near Kalamata and came across the curing olive fruit branch floating in the water. If they tasted the divine harmony of the Greek Gods’ elements and discovered that the olive fruit tree was not just best for oil, wood and shade, but for it’s fruit too, then let that be the start of a nourishing tradition.
I have been learning about the whole benefits of the olive tree itself recently when I’m not making up mythological stories of food origins. 🙂
With all its rich phytonutrients and phytochemicals (phyto stems from the Greek word-plant), the medicinal compounds from the leaves, fruit, roots and stems, play a major role in fighting bacterial and viral infections/disease as well as boosting the immune system to prevent and treat flus and colds. The olive tree’s ancient medicinal presence is found in many religious texts such as the Qu’ran, Torah and Bible, and continues to feature in Internal Medicine Journals today.
The oleuropein (the bitter substance in olives) has been founded to inactivate bacteria, and display a number of other benefits in pharmacology research. Essentially, it is an herbal powerhouse effective for infectious and chronic health conditions. I like to use olive leaf extract or make olive leaf tea as a preventive agent in my overall health. Olive leaves are now a staple in my cupboard alongside cured olives. I’ve found ways to use olive leaves in many everyday uses by sprinkling the leaves in salads, porridge, soups, and breads. Don’t be surprised if I post an Olive leaf smoothie in the near future. I promise it wont be bitter!
For now, I would like to share some delicious combinations of flavours I’ve added to my curing olives over the years.
But first, there are a variety of ways to cure olives. Check out the Australian Olive Grower Issue #4 for some inspiration.
For the past three years, I have been roughly following a water bath recipe given to me by Francolin Farm.
1. After picking your olives, place rinsed olives in a net bag (the ones you store onion’s with) and put into a bucket and cover with water. Don’t pack olives too tightly and take care not to bruise them. I place my olives in a cooler box because it has a spout I can lift open to let the water drain. Some people save water by placing the olives on top of the toilet basin where fresh water gets drained everytime you flush. Others just fill their bathtub and drain it daily. It would be nice to find some use for your greywater (olive water) in your garden. If water shortage is an issue, fill jars with 50% salt and 50% olives. Gently turn and toss olive jars daily for 2-3 weeks. Rinse salt and fill jars again with 1 part salt and 10 parts water (see below for olive marinade flavours.)
2. Change water once or twice daily for 2-3 weeks. Simply lift the net bag with
olives out of the bucket and pour off water and replace in fresh water. Taste after two weeks and continue if it is still too bitter.
3. Dissolve 500 grams coarse salt in 5 litres boiling water. Allow to cool.
This mixture is sufficient for approx 2 ½ kilos of olives. Leave olives in this
brine solution undisturbed for one week. Taste, if bitter replace with fresh
brine solution and leave for a further week. I like to use non-iodized salt or kosher salt. The other ratio to use is 1 part salt to 10 parts water.
4. Rinse olives several times with fresh water. Cover with brown vinegar for
24 hours. Pour off vinegar and expose the olives to air overnight or a few hours
till dry. This brings the colour of the olives back to a deep purple/black. You may notice they lightened in colour when they were soaking.
4. Pack olives in clean warm sterilized jars. Pour over 25 ml olive oil per
jar. Make a brine of 300 grams coarse salt to 4,5 litres water (or 1:10 ratio). When brine mixture boils pour in 250 ml wine vinegar. The vinegar is not necessary, but many people love the taste of red wine vinegar instead of the rich olive taste. The art is getting all flavours to balance, in true Grecian culinary wisdom -Everything in Moderation. Pour hot brine mixture over . . . . . But wait! This is where your creative olive marinade flavours get to feature.
Let your imagination go wild. In addition to your brine (whether it is the vinegar and salt, or just 1 part salt to 10 part water ratio. The salt ensures that the olives cure without bacteria growing and spoiling the fruit. If you notice some white film, don’t stress. You can scrape it off or leave it to add flavour as some people believe. Before filling the jars with olives, add your favourite pinches of spice and intuitive amounts for your olives to marinate in. Then, place olives into the jar, filling the jar to the brim. Pour your salt brine over and seal jar immediately whilst the liquid is hot. Some people pour oil over to seal the jar. This is optional.
Some flavour marinades I’ve done in the past:
Smoked Chipolte Chili Powder and Rosemary
Mustard Seeds and Laurel Leaf
Greek Traditional: Lemon Juice, Lemon Rinds, Rosemary and Garlic cloves
Herbaliser: Basil, Oregano, Lemon and Thyme
Nasturtium and Peppadew
Lemongrass and Ginger
Cumin seeds, Cayenne and Lemon
Miso and Ginger
Celery Seeds, Bay Leaf and Tarragon
Sage and Rainbow Peppercorns
Smoked Paprika and Lemon Slices
Lavender Flowers, Cloves and Cumin
Cardamom, Peppercorn and Cinnamon
Red curry powder and Turmeric
Carraway Seeds, Celery and Carrot
Share your olive marinades and enjoy!
Growing up, we used to pick wild mulberries. The dark mulberries ripened to their juicy capacity and fell on the pavement, painting the sidewalks purple. This was nature’s graffiti and we were young urban foragers. Just below Chicago’s purple EL line, we thought the forest preserve was our Jungle Book fantasy and we ate from the trees along the canal. From the early months of spring to late summer, we would bring pots and buckets home with red-stained fingers.
We ate every shade of red mulberry until our lips were purple and stomach’s sour. We picked so much that we were left with no choice to boil them into a mulberry jam. The berries always tasted better straight from the tree but the syrupy preserve on toast or over yoghurt made the season of red mulberries last.
Today, the mulberry tree keeps painting me purple and I get to try new and old recipes that transform a harvest into nourishing treats. Springtime in Johannesburg brought all these childhood memories back, getting sugar high from trees and overdosing on the tart ruby mulberries. As if the sweetness from the harvest wasn’t enough, I made a mulberry tart from an adapted recipe I learned while managing the kitchen and guest lodge of Los Cardones surf eco-lodge and restaurant on Nicaragua’s Pacific Coast. This tart has been loved by many! Pass on the joy:
Stauder French Tart Recipe
Preheat oven to 350F/180C
2 egg yolks
8 TB sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups sifted flour
1 bar softenedd butter
Mix butter, sugar and salt. Add eggs and mix in flour. Mold to a tart pan and poke with a fork. Store in fridge while you prepare filling.
2 egg whites
8 TB sugar
1 bar melted butter
1/2 cup mulberries (smashed)
Mix egg whites, sugar and butter together. Add in fruit.
Take crust out of the fridge and pour fruit filling into chilled tart mold. Bake until crust is golden brown. Let it cool for 30 minutes before serving.
This easy recipe can be adapted into any ready available fruit you want to make into a desert (or breakfast treat.) Some versions we tried and loved: dragonfruit-pitaya, kalala-passion fruit-grenadilla, lemon, orange, banana, and pineapple.
Who said you can’t eat ice cream for breakfast? I don’t have a Vitamix. I don’t have an Oscar. But I can still make easy raw food creations with what I have. I’m using the trusty MegaMix Juicer. During the days tofu was all the hype, Mom would add frozen bananas to our morning tofu smoothies. I steer clear of soy products as much as I can now, but I ALWAYS wait until bananas go brown and sweet and keep them frozen in the freezer for when the time is right.
For this recipe, I “juiced” two frozen bananas and added 6 fresh strawberries with a handful of pecans in between. I know it may not be the best for the blade, but the soft pecans gave a creamy consistency, making it more of an ‘ice cream’ than a sorbet. The constitution of strawberries and frozen bananas creates a thick slushy texture once it passes through the juicer blade. Slush instead of juice may pass through the juice spout, but all the frozen ‘cream’ is left inside the juicer’s filter where normally all the fiber of juicing fruits are left.
The fun part: scooping out all the ‘ice cream’ from the walls of the filter. I easily could have eaten from the juicer’s filter, but then I wouldn’t have been able to take the tantalizing photo of this simple nutritious ice cream.
Whether you are interested in raw food creations, vegan-ital cuisine, lactose intolerant recipes or just love ice cream for breakfast-this easy recipe in any juicer will make anyone a morning person screaming for ice cream!