Seaweed inspires coastal cookbook

A COFFEE table book showcasing innovative local chefs and South Coast scenery, will encourage Australians to include seaweed and algae in their diets.
Nanjing Night Net

FROM OCEAN TO PLATE: Dr Pia Winberg watches on as chef Russell Chinn from the Vineyard Kitchen creates a dish using seaweed.

The Coastal Chef, produced by Ulladulla’s Habour Publishing House, is set to inspire foodies with cutting edge culinary creations using one of the world’s most important and diverse ingredients of the future.

Editor and project manager Claudine Tinellis said 20 South Coast chefs, including many from the Milton-Ulladulla region, were working alongside Mollymook-based marine scientist Dr Pia Winberg to publish an “inspirational table-top book of new food creations using seaweed and algae”.

“This is an exciting and innovative project aimed at inspiring Australians to eat seaweed and algae and to promote the exceptional culinary talent of new and established chefs with links to the Shoalhaven region,” she said.

“The book will form one part of the overall strategic vision to establish the Shoalhaven as a global biotechnology hub and leader in algal applications.”

Ms Tinellis said the book would appeal to people’s “growing appetite for every day sustainable and gourmet wholefood”.

“This book takes seaweed and algae beyond the ubiquitous sushi roll into the realm of cutting-edge cuisine,” she added.

A strong advocate for seaweed’s health benefits, Dr Winberg sourced a selection of seaweed and algae from around the world and gave each participating chef a mystery box to work with.

Each chef was asked to come up with innovative ways to use the seaweed and algae by creating an entree, main, dessert or even a beverage and document the process for the book.

“The whole point was to demonstrate new and innovative ways to use this versatile ingredient in a way that was visually appealing as well as tasty,” Ms Tinellis said.

“Some of the dishes we’ve seen to date have been truly spectacular.

“We have seen seaweed and algae incorporated into bread, featured as mayonnaise, ice-cream, ganache, pasta, salad and soup as well as a good old Aussie meat pie.

“My understanding is that many of the chefs have used seaweed and algae in their food before, however some of the seaweed and algae samples provided were completely new to the chefs and they faced challenges in understanding the unique flavour profiles or molecular characteristics of some of the more unfamiliar species.”

She said the book would contain at least 20 recipes, along with information about the health benefits of consuming seaweed and algae.

“The book is not just about the recipes, it’s about educating our readers about the health benefits of habitual consumption of seaweed and algae.

“There are many amazing ways that we can use this ingredient in a way that is practical and incredibly tasty.”

Ms Tinellis said seaweed and algae were “foods of the future” with benefits to human health, medicine and Australia’s economy.

“Australia is beginning to upscale its commercial production of seaweed and algae and is a leader in algal applications.”

Garry Evans from the Harbour Publishing House said the book was in the final stages of production and would be launched at the algae gastronomy cocktail evening during the fifth annual Congress of the International Society for Applied Phycology in Sydney in June.

Recipes from the book will feature on the menu during the launch.

“This is a really big deal for Ulladulla and the South Coast,” he said.

“We have been talking to Pia about creating a book about seaweed and the local area for a while and it made sense to get local chefs on board.”

Following the official launch, the book will be available at the Harbour Bookshop in Ulladulla as well as selected local outlets.

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