Many of us have only encountered seaweed in two forms: The slippery, rubbery stuff strewn in the rock pools of seaside summer holidays, and the deep-fried, cashew-nut topped, salty-sweet stuff from Chinese restaurants.
The former would unappetisingly wrap around your ankles in shallow water, and the latter – apologies for ruining the illusion – is generally cabbage.
Wales has been on to the nutritional – it’s packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants – benefits of seaweed for some time with its hunks of laverbread, while the likes of Japan, Korea and China have long considered seaweed a culinary staple.
But, as consumers and the wider food industry become increasingly aware of the importance of sustainability, seaweed is proving to be a wonder ingredient, and one we might all be eating on a regular basis soon.
And Kaiser Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson is already fully on board.
The I Predict A Riot singer and former The Voice judge, has teamed up with his childhood friend, marine biologist and seaweed harvester Dr Craig Rose, to develop a range of seaweed infused oils, called Doctor Seaweed’s Weed & Wonderful.
Here’s what he told us about this greenest of ingredients…
Ricky, why the fascination with seaweed?
What’s not to love? I was introduced to the wonderful world of seaweed by my friend Craig (he is a doctor you know), and never realised that the stuff you see all around our shores can be so incredibly good for you.
How do you and Craig know each other?
I’ve known Craig since we were 8 years old, and he went off to uni and did marine biology.
When you’ve known someone for over 30 years, it is so good to be working together on something you can be really passionate about. It is a bit like starting a band all over again. It’s really exciting.
What has Craig and his marine biology know-how taught you?
I’ve learnt through him that seaweed ticks all the boxes of sustainability, which is so important when it comes to how we live, as well as seaweed containing a vast array of nutrients, and far more than land plants.
Are you worried about sustainability, food and the state of the planet?
I wouldn’t say it is a worry, as there are amazing companies and products out there like Doctor Seaweed’s Weed & Wonderful addressing these concerns.
I just think that everyone needs to do their bit, and we will find a way to live happily, healthily and sustainably.
We’ve always found a way to cope and move forward, and so I am sure we will again.
It is great to be part of something making its own impact, however small, on that positive change.
So you clearly like seaweed, but are you a keen cook of non-rockpool based foods too?
I really enjoy cooking. I find it relaxing. I still love some great British classics like bangers and mash, but as you get older, and since I have been lucky to travel all over the world, you start to want to try new things, and certainly be conscious of what you eat.
Let us in on your signature dish…
I made an incredible goulash the other day, and used Doctor Seaweed’s Weed & Wonderful Smoked Scottish Seaweed infused oil as the oil to cook in, and the Intense Smoked Scottish Seaweed Culinary Essence to drip in the finished dish at the end.
It really lifts the dish to a whole new level.
What is your earliest food memory?
Crisp sandwiches. It may not be sophisticated, but I reckon even top chefs can’t resist.
Do you have a brilliantly bizarre pre-gig snack routine?
We actually have an incredible catering team that tour with us, and so they really look after me.
I don’t have to think, and get some amazing food.
But every now and again, those crisp sandwiches creep in…
What’s the best hangover cure you’ve discovered?
Crisp sandwich (that may be the answer to everything from now on).
We’re sensing a theme, so presumably your ‘last night on earth’ meal would also be a…
Of course! Is there anything you can’t whip up in the kitchen?
I have perfected a crisp sandwich. I won’t admit to any shortcomings.
And finally, is there a kitchen utensil you can’t live without?
Knife sharpener. Craig bought it for me and Grace (Zito – Wilson’s longtime girlfriend) one time as our knives were beyond blunt.
I now love sharpening a good knife. Does that sound weird?
For further details on Doctor Seaweed’s Weed & Wonderful product range, visit seaweedandco.com/.
- Press Association