I have found that Sea Lettuce pairs really well with fruits. I like to work with the leaves – their bright colour never fails to lift the look of a dish and their delicate taste doesn’t need strongly flavoured seasoning. This surprising combination is visually stunning, super easy to prepare and really pleasing to the taste buds! Try it next time you entertain. Serve it as a canapé, in individual spoons as shown here, with a glass of sparkling wine; alternatively set it up as a delicate first course in tiny shells, 3 shells per serving (Queen Scallop shells are just the right size). Sea Lettuce is a bright green cellophane-like leaf very similar to a lettuce leaf. Fresh plants are rather crunchy and can be tough in texture. Sea Lettuce has a distinctive aroma that translate into a taste similar to sorrel, a delicate ‘green’ flavour with a subtle hint of pepper. It is rich in Chlorophyll. It is usually sold dry, either as full leaves or cut down into flakes. The flakes can be used instead of parsley in a number of dishes. The leaves are crinkled and present an attractive variety of green and yellow colours.
Sea Lettuce is one of the easiest seaweed to use. It reconstitutes very rapidly (in a matter of a few seconds) in warm liquid – this would take a couple minutes in something cold. I have found it best to just dip it in liquid very quickly, as soaking it too long makes the leaves too soft and they become harder to separate without tearing. Sea Lettuce can be re-hydrated in water or stock and you can use your creativity with other liquids – as an example, sweet juices or fruit/flower teas would give the leaves a lovely subtle flavour. Sea lettuce leaves are fantastic chopped up and stir-fried with potatoes, especially orange kumara, as a vegetable in light soups, or used as a wrap for fish, mashed potatoes, cheese or tofu. Their colour will brighten any dish and add a significant amount of minerals (it is high in iron, calcium, magnesium & manganese) and vitamins (good source of vitamin A, Bs (including B12) and Vitamin C). For vegetarians, Sea Lettuce is also a great source of protein (30%), dietary fibre and anti-oxidants. Its effect is alkalinising on the body. A word of warning: sea lettuce likes to grow in nutrient rich waters and can grow in polluted areas. Although Sea Lettuce grows in abundance in New Zealand, commercial harvest is not permitted. Our sea Lettuce is currently imported from Europe. Find out more about Sea Lettuce by clicking here.
Here’s the recipe:
INGREDIENTS: 5g dried Sea Lettuce leaves (half a bag) 2 slices of fresh pineapple * 2 tbsp rice vinegar 2 tbsp agave syrup (or honey) 2 tbsp shoyu (type of soya sauce) 1 tsp sesame oil 2 tbsp pineapple juice (or water) * Using a fresh pineapple gives a better appearance and flavour to the dish. Canned pineapple have a diminished taste, texture and nutrition because of the canning process which involves blanching the fruit. To select a fresh pineapple that is ready to eat, pull gently on one of the top green leave and if it comes out easily, the pineapple is ripe. The outside skin should not be totally green (unripe) or yellow (over-ripe). Before cutting the fruit, stand the pineapple upside down (over the opening of a jar works well) for a while (20 minutes) so the sweet juices that have accumulated at the bottom of the fruit can flow back to the top.
METHOD: First cut a fresh pineapple into chunks. Click on the link to find out how to cut a fresh pineapple.
Pan fry the chunks with a little bit of oil (olive, coconut & macadamia oils are good choices) until golden & crunchy on the edges. Dip the sea lettuce leaves in warm water (or you can try pineapple juice or herbal tea) for a few seconds, just long enough to loose their dryness but not so much that the leaves become soggy; then squeeze the extra liquid out.
Fluff up the leaves with your hands, separating them from each other as the moisture spread evenly to make them less brittle. Chop the leaves if you find them too chunky. Prepare the dressing by mixing the remaining ingredients. Drizzle the sea Lettuce leaves with the dressing and combine. Serve individual portions in a serving spoon as per the picture and top with a piece of grilled/roasted pineapple. I then season with freshly ground black pepper. It is best to mix the dressing into the leaves at the last minute so they retain their structure and do not wilt too quickly. An additional bonus from the fresh pineapple, if you are a gardener or have green fingers, is to use the pineapple top with the leaves to grow an interesting ornamental plant. Click on the link to find out how How to grow a pineapple plant from the top leaves of your fresh pineapple. Enjoy !! CULINARY TIPS: Sea Lettuce leaves are a colourful and nutritious addition to soups, omelettes, savoury baking and stir-fry dishes. Leaves may also be used to wrap little food parcels to frying, grilling or poaching. HEALTH TIPS: Like all seaweed, Sea Lettuce is a concentrated source of vitamins, minerals & trace elements. It is particularly strong in iron, calcium, magnesium and Vitamin A, Bs & C.