Saturday, 21 September 2013

Happy Birthday, Korean Style - With Seaweed Soup

Researching a book on British seaweed may have steered me away from sushi but I am easily distracted. I couldn’t resist further nosing into: why Koreans serve brown seaweed soup to celebrate a birthday. Postpartum mamas are also served copious amounts of seaweed soup, whilst in confinement. Perhaps the iodine is thought to help lactating mothers or seaweed has properties attributed to regaining a pre pregnancy figure. Scientists would however appear to be anxious over levels of iodine consumption but as is often the case, scientific data is inconclusive, not least because the iodine content in soup (from the seaweed)  varies. While I've noticed seasonal culinary differences when cooking with marine algae I suspect there is a variation in nutrients too. I’m left wondering whether the iodine content is higher in the birthday soups of summer babes.

Here is a link for Korean miyyeoguk  (seaweed soup) if you like the idea of making it. There is plenty of giggling chat beyond the soup for those who, like me, are keen to be sidetracked. Stick with the video for a creative kelp facial mask - it wouldn’t look out of place at Hallowe'en. Now there’s wicked kelp thought. Sadly at room temperature it’s greenish brown not black in colour.

I’ve used dulse in soup recipes in The Forager’s Kitchen: it thickens and is of course rather magical when cooked because it changes colour from ruby port red to green. This week however, I’ve created a new recipe for my seaweed book, which is loyal to the delicious, simple flavour of dulse. 

Increasingly, I realise that we need to be more discerning when cooking with Marine algae. Species is important and seasonal taste may vary.