Choose this sea food

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE - BY VIC­TO­RIA PREVER

It’s eco-friendly, packed with min­er­als and kosher cer­ti­fied. It’s time to eat weed

MA­RINE BI­OL­O­GIST, Dr Craig Rose (aka Dr Sea­weed) was nearly a Kaiser Chief. “I went to school with Ricky Wil­son — who is still a good friend — and we used to play in bands to­gether. I went off to uni while he car­ried on play­ing mu­sic and founded the Kaiser Chiefs.” Wil­son is now the front man of the in­die rock band, BBC Ra­dio 2 pre­sen­ter and for­mer judge on The Voice, while Rose has made his mark as a ma­rine bi­ol­o­gist cur­rently car­ry­ing out re­search at New­cas­tle Univer­sity around the use of sea­weed in blood sugar man­age­ment. He has also founded a busi­ness sell­ing sea­weed ex­tract for health sup­ple­ments and in culi­nary oils.

“Sea­weed naturally in­hibits the en­zymes in the blood that break down car­bo­hy­drates so the sugar is re­leased more slowly. We stay fuller for longer” he ex­plains.

It’s also packed with min­er­als “A great num­ber of women are io­dine de­fi­cient — 76% of school age girls are de­fi­cient and 66% of women are too” he ex­plains. “You get io­dine from fish and dairy but with the rise of plant based diet, the only nat­u­ral (ve­gan) source of io­dine is sea­weed.” He tells me that we need io­dine for thy­roid func­tion, and both skin and brain health.

It’s sus­tain­able and also de­liv­ers a hefty dose of cal­cium, potas­sium and iron. Dr Rose, who grew up in Leeds, but now lives in Whit­ley Bay, sources his sea­weed from sea lochs in the Outer He­brides. The species he uses has the Harry Pot­ter-es­que name, ‘knot­ted wrack’. “It’s the type with the nob­bly, poppy bits you see on the beach. I work with two guys who har­vest it from around the Isles of Lewis and Har­ris. The Queen owns the sea beds so you need a li­cence to har­vest there. The wa­ter is re­ally clean up there and there are miles and miles of coast­line where it grows.”

The har­vesters use ma­chines — es­sen­tially float­ing lawn mow­ers — which trim a foot or so off the tops of the plants at high tide. It takes two to four years for the weed to grow back but as it can take sev­eral months for the har­vesters to work one sea loch there is plenty avail­able. “They can take 20 tonnes of sea­weed off on a good day,” says Rose.

It’s then sent to Stor­n­away for pro­cess­ing. “It’s dried and milled and Below left: pep up car­rot hummus with smoked sea­weed oil turned into sup­ple­ments and essences that I then use in culi­nary oils.”

He ad­mits that he chose to ob­tain the kosher cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for his oils (from the London Beth Din) partly to please his par­ents, but says it has been use­ful for sales. “A hechsher turns peo­ple’s heads . It’s like a sign of qual­ity, even if the cus­tomer isn’t in­ter­ested in it from a reli­gious point of view.”

The sea­weed essence is added to rape­seed oil and sold un­der his brand Weed and Won­der­ful. He sug­gests us­ing the oils — like ex­tra vir­gin olive oil — as a condi­ment over sal­ads or in soups or even to cook with. The rape­seed oil means they have a high smoke point and are safe to cook with, un­like many other so­called healthy oils, which de­te­ri­o­rate when heated.

“We do a smoked sea­weed ver­sion that’s great in scram­bled eggs or over roasted veg­eta­bles, and we used it to fry our latkes over Chanukah and they fried up beau­ti­fully.”

He also sells the milled, dried sea­weed to food man­u­fac­tur­ers to use in their prod­ucts. “We sup­ply sea­weed for MeToo kosher sea­weed hummus; Marks and Spencer’s sea­weed may­on­naise and in a range of crack­ers and bis­cuits made by Stag bis­cuits.”

It’s cur­rently fash­ion­able with foodies, with Jamie Oliver and Jimmy Do­herty pro­claim­ing them­selves fans: “They re­cently filmed a pro­gramme about Scot­tish sea­weed and de­scribed it as a phe­nom­e­nal re­source around the Bri­tish Isles.”

Rock star, Wil­son, has also in­vested in Dr Rose’s en­ter­prise. He gave it air­time when he baked up smoked sea­weed scones on Celebrity GBBO that were a hit with Paul Hol­ly­wood.

It’s all kosher, so per­haps this is the year to get into weed.

www.sea­weedandco.com

Main im­age: Dr Craig Rose and school friend Ricky Wil­son were mu­si­cal mates. Wil­son made sea­weed scones on

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