Our Edible Ocean
Information provided by Maine Coast Sea Vegetables, Inc.
Story and Photographs by Jenn Bakos
It may seem odd, unattractive even, but the harvesting of sea veggies has gone on for years and years. We have learned that Native Americans used to harvest these vitamin-filled greens as well as others from around the world. It may be something you’ve heard of being used in cuisines of different Asian cultures, but the great thing is that we can find and grow these plants right in our own backyard. Well, if you’re on the ocean that is.
The harvest begins in April and continues at different times until October. All the plants must be tested for heavy metals, herbicides, pesticides, and microbiological contaminants.
These plants have more vitamins and minerals than any other class of food. They are full of vitamins A, B, C, and E. They also produce a large amount of essential sugars, proteins, and fibers. Seaweed has a high iodine content, which is great for those with thyroid troubles, and it is an antidote for radioactive poisoning. Some studies even show signs that consumption may inhibit tumor formation. The benefits are outstanding, so adding this to your diet seems like it would greatly improve your health, don’t you think? The biggest complaint we hear is that the ocean taste is too overpowering, but when cooked the right way with other ingredients, the seaweed transforms into something delicious. There are many ways to add seaweed into your diet and it is fairly easy to find in stores. One of our favorites is Maine Coast Sea Vegetables, based out of Franklin, Maine. They helped us out by providing a wealth of information and some samples to try out.
For those skeptics out there, we encourage you to try one of the following tasty, ocean inspired recipes. You will find that the health benefits actually come second to the delicious taste.
Tasting The Sea
Alaria: One of the more attractive and tasty sea vegetables but most difficult to harvest as they like to grow in rocky peninsulas. It goes well in soups, stews, salads, and can be made into chips.
Kelp: Along with Alaria, Kelp is harvested in spring but prefers to grow in the quieter waters of Frenchman Bay and other bays in Down East Maine. It is also great in soups and stews or can be eaten uncooked.
Harvested by hand and dried in the sun, this sea veggie only grows in the North Atlantic and the Pacific North West – according to the Maine Coast Sea Vegetable Company; the finest quality comes from a New Brunswick Island off of the Maine Coast. Great in chowders, sandwiches, and you can even mix the flakes or granules into your smoothies!
Popular in Asian countries for many centuries, this plant grows in granite rock beds off the coast of New England. It is hand harvested and laid to dry on warmed beach stones. Maine Coast Sea Vegetable Company dry roasts these and it can be added to soups, popcorn, and salad. It has a high protein and vitamin B content.
“It's incredible and inspiring sourcing food and building a menu like this. We print our menus in house everyday, so if something isn't available, we just change the menu. Anyone can order from a big truck and a broadliner, but what's the fun? And what are you doing to help the economic circle of your local community? By talking with, interacting with, building relationships with the ones growing and caring for the product...that is purpose, that is depth. Does it take a little more work? Maybe...but doesn't everything worth doing?” said Louis.
Portsmouth is that kind of place that you fall in love with quickly. Whether you walk through the popular downtown area or the quiet neighborhoods, around every corner there’s a reminder of its long colonial and maritime history. The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and the newly constructed Memorial Bridge are Portsmouth Harbor landmarks that serve as a gateway to the Atlantic. Portsmouth is also the launching point for a day trip to the historic Isle of Shoals. In addition to Moxy and a thriving food scene, there is plenty of shopping, museums and live music to choose from.
“Portsmouth was the only choice for me...an absolutely incredible and dynamic town, a great vibe and scene, and lots of people from many diferent professions that are dedicated to their passion...the energy of Portsmouth is what I love, the community of it, the history and modern aspects all cohesively coexisting in a unique culture that just feels good.”
When you're handed a menu, you often just see it for what it is, a list of food and drinks to choose from, but there's a deeper meaning embedded in the menu at Moxy. It’s a creative expression of culinary history and local culture. The food is thoughtfully prepared by a skilled team who understand the food and its origins.
You can find Moxy on 106 Penhallow St. Metered parking is available on Penhallow and surrounding streets (free after 7pm), and at the Portmouth Parking Garage on 34 Hanover Street. Reservations are recommended.
New England Dulse Chowder
Recipe courtesy Maine Coast Sea Vegetables, Inc.
1 cup water
1 medium onion, diced
2–3 medium potatoes, chopped
1 oz (about ½ package) dulse
½ lb fresh or frozen corn
1 quart plain soy milk (not lite)
White or yellow miso
Black pepper to taste
¼-½ tsp tarragon (optional)
In a medium pot, bring 1 cup water to a boil. Add diced onions, then potatoes, and cook 5 to 10 minutes. Next, add the dulse and corn, and cook for 1 minute. Add soymilk, reduce the heat to a simmer. Be sure not to boil the soymilk or it will curdle. Stir occasionally. The dulse will separate into pieces after a few minutes. Add miso, pepper (and optional tarragon) and serve! Serves 4. Enjoy!
Kelp With Rice
Recipe courtesy Maine Seaweed
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small sweet chopped onion
1 carrot, grated or chopped
3 garlic cloves,
minced thyme to taste
½ cup soaked kelp, chopped
3 cups warm cooked brown rice
sea salt to taste
Cayenne or fresh grated ginger juice to taste
1 Tbsp roasted sesame seeds
Warm the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and garlic. Sprinkle with thyme, cook for 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in the kelp and cook for 2 minutes. Add the cooked rice, stir in the ginger juice or cayenne, sprinkle with salt and sesame seeds. Enjoy!