Saturday, February 20, 2016

Algue or Algue de Mer Seaweed, Edible Seaweed. Algue or Algue de Mer on French Menus.

from
Behind the French Menu
by
Bryan G. Newman


Sea kelp.
 
One or more seaweeds may well be flavoring your fish soup or be part of other French seafood and saltwater fish dishes; seaweed may also be seasoning meats or be part of a mixed seaweed salad or served along with regular salad greens.
 
France’s use of seaweed in the kitchen has a history as long as that of Japan. French recipes for seaweed are found in late 15th-century cookbooks and more are added today. 
 
Some of the most popular French seaweeds include
 Laitue de Mer - Lettuce of the sea.
 
 Kombu Breton - sometimes called kombu royal.

Spaghetti de Mer  - Sea spaghetti
   

Spaghetti de Mer  - Sea Spaghetti
   
Varech - Kelp.
    
Porphyre – This is the seaweed called Nori in Japanese and traditionally used to wrap sushi and onigiri; it is now grown in France.
  
Salicorne, Perce-pierre, Criste-marine or Haricots de Mer – Salicornia or samphire is not a seaweed, but since it grows in rocky areas very close to the sea it is often used like a seaweed. Young salicornia plants are gathered from April through July and then will be used in salads, sauces, soups; they may also be pickled and then used as a condiment. Their shape gives them another name, the asparagus of the sea; however, that refers to their look, not their taste.
       

Haricots de Mer avec Œufs Durs and Beurre.
Salicornia served with hard boiled eggs and butter.
 
Fougère de Mer - Wakamé in Japanese.  This seaweed is most often seen in miso soup in Japan and in salads in French dishes.
   

Seaweed salad.
  
There are over 100 edible seaweeds, but French chefs rely on products grown close to home and are readily available.   Today France grows seaweed commercially, and the export of seaweed is big business. After Japan, China, and Ireland, France is the largest commercial producer of farmed seaweed. 
Seaweed on French menus:
  
French menus that include seaweed in their listings only rarely indicate a specific seaweed.  It appears that two or more seaweeds are often used in combination and listing them all would take away from the main part of the dish.
  
Dos de Skrei au Beurre D'algues – A thick cut from the back of rehydrated and desalted cod, the fish, served with seaweed butter. Rehydrated and desalted cod has hundreds of recipes and is very popular. The butter will be a compound butter; that means the butter was warmed and then mixed with seaweed; then cooled and served as a condiment. It will be added when the dish is served; it will then slowly melt and flavor the fish.
  
Filet de Bœuf Aubrac,  Algues, Huitres, Écrasée de Ratte- A cut from the fillet of France’s Aubrac cattle served with seaweed, oysters, and crushed/mashed ratte potatoes. (The potato called ratte in French has an odd shape and was considered to look like a small rat. Despite the name, the ratte potato is among the most popular potatoes in France). 

The beef fillet noted here comes from the Bœuf Fermier d’Aubrac, Label Rouge, red label rated,  farm raised beef cattle of Aubrac. The L’Aubrac plateau where these cattle graze for 7 or 8 months of the year reaches from the south of the Massif Central, and on through parts of three departments, including Lozère in Languedoc-Roussillon, Aveyron in the Midi-Pyrénées, and Cantal in the Auvergne. These cattle were formerly working cattle, the bulls pulled the plows and the cows were milk cattle. The Bœuf Fermier d’Aubrac have been native to this region for hundreds of years; however, since the 19th century, they have become one of the best-considered beef cattle in France. 
 
Merlan à la Vapeur d’Algue, Légumes Sautés a Cru, Pommes Darphin -  Whiting, the fish, steamed over seaweed and served with fresh vegetables very lightly sautéed and pomme darphin. Pomme darphin are grated potatoes cooked in a frying pan with a little seasoning; when ready they will look somewhat like a thick pancake.
 
Le Roulé de Saumon à la Ricotta et sa Feuille d'Algue Nori. Salmon prepared with ricotta cheese and then rolled inside Nori/porphyre seaweed.


Drying seaweed in Nanchang, China
   
Gaufre aux Algues, Caviar d'Aquitaine Impérial Baeri - Waffles made with seaweed that accompanies the very best caviar Baeri. The “Imperial Baeri” comes from farmed Siberian Sturgeon. Here the caviar comes from the region of Aquitaine, and that indicates one of the sturgeon farms on the Gironde or Garonne rivers near to Bordeaux.
 
Tartare de Saumon aux Algues.  Raw fresh salmon prepared as a Tartar and flavored with seaweed.
   

Collecting seaweed in Brittany
                                                                                       
Le Carpaccio d'Espadon et sa Petite Salade de Wakamé – A swordfish carpaccio served with a small wakamé seaweed salad.
 
Farmed seaweed is now part of many of the world’s cuisines.  The seaweed called Agar-Agar you may never have heard of, but along with similar seaweeds it is grown for use as a vegetable emulsifier; a thickening agent. Agar-agar and its cousins are crucial for the canned and preserved food industry. You probably eat some agar-agar every day; so do not turn your nose up.  If you see vegetable gelatin on a list of contents, that is probably agar-agar. Another seaweed called chondrus crispus is used as a thickener and stabilizer in milk products including ice cream and other processed foods, In Europe its use will be indicated on the list of contents as E407 or E407b.
  
      
Edible seaweed in the UK
   
In the UK the most famous edible seaweed is laver.  The laver seaweed is used for making laverbread, a traditional Welsh dish usually made with added oatmeal and often eaten with bacon and cockles for a real Welsh breakfast. Laver is also used in soups and sauces for lamb, crab, monkfish and other seafood products.


Take away cockles and laverbread in Wales.
     
When seaweed is washed in clear water few remain salty. Seaweed is a real sea vegetable and has vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and iron.
   

Farming kelp.
 

Chou Marin, Chou de Mer or Crambe – Sea kale; despite its name this particular kale does not grow in the water; it is a member of the cabbage family that just likes being near the sea.  Sea Kale grows along the shore and in the wild is now a protected plant. However, it is also cultivated and so occasionally appears on a menu with its young shoots as a separate dish; older leaves may be served as a garnish.

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Bryan G. Newman
 
Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2016.
  
For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman
at

behindthefrenchmenu@gmail.com