Seaweed sandwiches, anyone?
If getting sand in your sandwiches fills you with dread, the thought of adding seaweed might not be appealing.
But like or loathe the idea, seaweed butter is the latest culinary invention from Scottish harvesters keen to test or tantalise people’s tastebuds.
Speckled in appearance and unsurprisingly salty, the unusual spread was launched yesterday for Scotland Week in New York.
And while traditional Scots fare such as haggis has been banned in the States for years due to health concerns about its less than orthodox ingredients, the strange seaside butter is expected to be a big hit after Edinburgh firm Mara Seaweed secured a lucrative deal to sell it to restaurants from California to New York.
Made in collaboration with Australian chef Brett Graham, of two Michelin star London restaurant The Ledbury, it is also highly nutritious, versatile and set to go on sale in Scotland in future.
Mara Seaweed co-founder Fiona Houston said: “It is the perfect ingredient to add a boost of umami flavour [a slightly meaty savoury taste], as well as essential nutrients into your dishes. It works well as a finishing butter on seafood and meat, as well as enhancing the flavour of vegetables.”
The butter will be available for American chefs from next month through the Chefs’ Warehouse catering business.
It is hoped that it will be added to recipe boxes for US homes, where people already receive the firm’s popular seaweed seasoning products.
For anyone who cannot wait for sales to start here the head chef at the renowned Three Chimneys Restaurant on Skye has been making his own version using Mara Seaweed’s seasoning to rave reviews.
Owner Shirley Spear said: “It’s been amazingly popular, people absolutely love it.
We serve it for the bread and butter in the restaurant. It’s salty, smoky and slightly iodine-y. It looks speckled when you mix the dark flakes of seaweed into the butter, a bit like a vanilla pod might look when you mix it into ice-cream. It looks pretty.”
Explaining the history of seaweed in Scotland and its health benefits, she added: “People in Scotland have used seaweed as part and parcel of their diet for a very long time but it’s one of these ingredients that has been forgotten about and discarded in modern times.
“The health benefits of even the smallest amount of
seaweed seasoning are fantastic.”
Mara seaweed gathers its key ingredient under licence along the coast of Fife, and also sells its products in Harrods and Marks & Spencer.