Sunday, April 24, 2011

Foraging 11 and Recipe: Dulse awash on the Briny Sea, Celtic Scones.

Love is like seaweed; even if you have pushed it away, you will not prevent it from coming back. – Nigerian Proverb

Photo: The Stakhanovite Twins, Flickr ccl
Have you ever eaten dulse? If you've eaten sushi, you've had its cousin, Nori. It wasn't too bad was it? Dulse is similar with a refreshing ocean taste.

Photo: Hijod.Huskona, Flickr ccl
Dulse harvesting by hand is a great way to get out into nature. All you do is wait for low tide and go gather it up (in an approved and non-polluted spot, of course). It then has to dry before use.

A word of caution. Since it is harvested on the seashore, always check for small shells and stones that you may gather up with it. Stones or shells can damage your teeth.

Dulse grows in the ocean  on both northern coasts of the Atlantic and Pacific. It is used as a snack food as well as a delicious ingredient in cooking. Dulse is a seaweed (ocean vegetable) that has a distinct "ocean" flavour and dark red/purple colour. 

It has been an important source of fibre for shore dwelling cultures for centuries. There is record of it being harvested by monks around 600 AD. Dulse is also an important source of fibre, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6 and B2 and some trace minerals.

Dulse can be eaten in several ways. Many local harvesters in Nova Scotia dry the seaweed on low heat in the oven to make crispy dulse chips. I can imagine they are amazing.

From The Fairmont Algonquin. Photo: Sifu Renka, Flickr ccl
It can be added to salads in very surprising ways as well. In researching this post I came across a pear and dulse salad, as well as avocado and dulse. 

It is an excellent addition to seafood soup where it imparts a wonderful sea flavour. It also can be added to sandwiches, for example replacing bacon in a BLT. I guess that would make it a DLT. 

Many upscale restaurants are also creating wonderful ways to use dulse in entrées and appetizers. The picture at right is from the Fairmont Algonquin Hotel, St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, New Brunswick. It is Chilled Bay of Fundy Lobster, Dulse Dusted Diver Scallop, Nori Wrapped Balik Salmon and Basil Aioli. Looks fantastic.

It is used in many stir-frys as it complements tofu or tempeh. Since it is high in potassium as opposed to sodium it can be an aid in lowering sodium intake. Dried dulse flakes are often sprinkled on food for this use.

For an unexpected recipe I've chosen to make the following recipe for Celtic Scones. The result is a scone with barely a hint of salty ocean flavour. Most scones have butter cut in and as such are lighter and crumblier. These are a cream style scone which is fluffy rather than crumbly.

Celtic Dulse Soda Scones
Makes 8 scones  |  Prep 10 minutes  | Bake 30 minutes, plus 10 min

3 cups flour
2 tsps baking soda
1/3 cup dulse, dried (packed into measuring cup)
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup thick plain yogurt
1 egg, beaten for brushing
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp water

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place a cookie sheet in the oven to heat up. 

Soak the dulse in warm water for five minutes. Drain off the water, squeeze the dulse and chop it into fine pieces. Combine the flour, soda and salt in a bowl, mixing thoroughly. Add in the dulse and mix to combine.

Add the yogurt into the mixture. At first mix with a fork and then use your hands. Knead in the bowl for about 1 minute until it all comes together. It will be somewhat sticky, soft and pliable. 

The mixed dough after kneading.
Using the palm your hand, shape the dough out into a circle about 3/4" thick and 10-12" wide. Score the dough with a knife, like you would cut a pie, into eight equal pieces. 

Place on the heated cookie sheet, brush with the beaten egg and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Mix together the sugar and water and set aside. 

Do this next step relatively quickly. Remove from the oven and brush with the sugar water. Cut into the 8 marked pieces. The scones will still be slightly doughy in the centre. 

After first bake, before cutting and
second bake.
Place back on the pan and bake for 10 more minutes.

Serve warm with butter and/or jam or jelly.


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