Some unusual foods we get from the sea…
Samphire, also known as glasswort, is a sea vegetable that grows plentifully on coastal shorelines and tidal mudflats. There are several species that grow in the United Kingdom, across Eurasia and in Australia, but all are edible. Crunchy and tasting of the sea, it can be eaten raw in salads or sandwiches, or gently cooked like asparagus to accompany seafood dishes.
As ocean ecosystems change, threatening biodiversity, at least one creature seems to be thriving – jellyfish. They’re plentiful, hardy, and even survive in oceanic dead zones. The Chinese have long eaten jellyfish as a traditional delicacy, and despite their reputation as stingers, about a dozen jellyfish varieties are edible. The tentacles are removed before the jellyfish is soaked in brine, and then dried. Jellyfish is typically served as a cold appetizer, shredded and tossed with soy sauce, vinegar and sesame oil. It has an elastic crunch and a slight flavour of calamari (squid).
Known as laver in Wales and slake in Ireland, zicai in China and nori in Japan, this edible coastal alga has been eaten for centuries. Belonging to the family of red algae, it is particularly high in dietary minerals like iron and iodine, giving it a flavour reminiscent of olives. It can be boiled to a pulp and eaten with toast in the traditional Welsh way, added to Chinese and Korean soups, or used to wrap parcels of sushi, Japanese style.