Had lunch at The Lure, one of my regular seafood spots in downtown St. Pete today. Clearly the tuna, on the right, is seafood. But what about the wakame seaweed, on the left?
Can seaweed be seafood? Why not? It comes from the sea. If you’re a sushi fan (as I am) you’ve probably consumed nori. Sushi crafters use it as the outer layer of a sushi roll, mostly just to hold it together but for flavor too. Nori is made from a red algae seaweed (that’s actually more purplish-green), chopped up, dried, and pressed into thin paper-like sheets. It’s also used to flavor Japanese soups and noodle dishes. Wakame, also called sea mustard, is a leafy green seaweed used in Japanese and Korean salads and soups. I think wakame, tossed with sesame seeds and a little sesame oil, makes a very flavorful salad. And if you’ve had miso soup, a staple in Japanese restaurants, that green leafy piece floating in the broth next to the tofu is wakame. Various types of kelp, like kombu, have been used throughout Asia, often dried and added to soups as flavoring. Sea grapes, raw but usually marinated in vinegar, are a common South Pacific salad ingredient. Dulse, another red algae (that actually is reddish-purple), is popular in Ireland where it is cooked in vegetable dishes and soups. It’s also dried and served as a salty snack food. And then there is saltwort, which grows in saltwater marches.
At Sarasota’s Mote Marine Laboratories, in their Aquaculture division, marine biologists have been experimenting with waste byproduct from red drum (redfish) to convert to fertilizer. Yes. You read that right. They’re turning fish poop into fertilizer, and they’re having considerable success using it for aquaponically-grown saltwort and also for sea purslane, a shoreline plant. Both are catching on at some Florida restaurants and markets.