According to one of its top purveyors, Atlantic Sea Farms, once-humble kelp is now edging into superstar territory, even carrying its own trademark as the Virtuous Vegetable™. Chock-full of fiber and minerals, and touting some impressive sustainability benefits, kelp is a seagreen that seems ready to move into mainstream dining.
What’s the story?
While seagreens have long been popular in Asia, they’re just beginning to gain appreciation in other parts of the culinary community. Kelp, a popular choice in many dishes, can be one of many varieties of brown algae, including Bullwhip Kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana), Rockweed (Fucus vesiculosus), Sugar Kelp (Saccharina latissimi), Wakame (Undaria pinnatifida) and Winged Kelp (Alaria esculenta).
All of these varieties are tasty, umami-rich offerings. Their eco-friendly status makes them even more appealing. For example, underwater kelp “forests,” which grow without the need for fertilizer, may remove 20 times more carbon from the atmosphere than land-based forests.
How to use it
Swap out kelp for any lettuce or leafy green vegetable in grain bowls, tacos, sauces, soups and smoothies. Kelp is also a great addition to your in-house pickling or fermentation program. For baked goods, dried kelp is a gluten-free swap out in many recipes, or can be a great sub for fruit or veg in recipes for zucchini bread or banana bread.
Where to buy
More than 98 percent of the edible seaweed on the market is grown in Asia. Many of those products are often mixed with dyes, additives and colorings before being frozen or dried. Pay attention to your sourcing and choose an environmentally conscious purveyor. Then start to experiment with your own creative ways to add the superfood seagreen to your menu.
Superfood Seagreens: A Guide to Cooking with Power-Packed Seaweed by Barton Seaver
Maine-based Atlantic Sea Farms, online purveyor whose kelp is never dried, never dyed and is grown in the United States
Seaweed Iceland, which sells raw seaweed sustainably harvested by a small family company in southwest Iceland.