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Edible seaweed & algae

Edible seaweed or algae are the latest gastronomic treasure to be found in the province of Cadiz. The first kind that began to be used are known as Ortiguillas (Sea Nettles/Snakelocks anemone), which live attached to the rocks. They are characterized by a delicious sea flavor and a tender and juicy texture, attributable to their high water content.

The most common way to have them is fried, after careful cleaning. Ideally, they will remain juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside. They originally became popular in the restaurants of Campo de Gibraltar area, but are now commonplace all over the Cadiz coast, sold both fresh and frozen.

In the past year, this emerging world of algae has been increased with those produced in the saltworks area of the Bay of Cadiz. These are species such as the Sea Lettuce, Ogonori and the Aonori, very common algae in the oriental kitchen that are now also beginning to be used by the restaurants of the province. A young new company has made an important contribution in this sense, with its dedication to the collection and treatment of these algae, sold both fresh and dry.

The algae and edible seaweed grow in the saltworks environment, the same habitat where sea salt is produced and where species of fish and seafood such as sole or camarones (baby shrimp) are also farmed.

Algae are very versatile in the kitchen. They can be used in salads and in sauces or as fillings for empanadas (patties) or croquettes. The first thing that strikes you when tasting algae is a deep scent of the sea, but then the flavor is much milder, adding nuances to the taste of food, but without too much prominence. This makes them very interesting for sauces or garnishes.

In addition to the edible seaweed, there is also a peculiar plant that grows in the saltworks area, the Salicornia, also known “sea asparagus”, since its taste, although more salty, is reminiscent of this plant. The salicornia is used in sofritos (sauté bases) or typical scrambled egg dishes called revueltos.

In addition to their culinary qualities, algae posses many health benefits, as they are very low in fat and rich in minerals and vitamins.

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