At last year’s Taste North, I enjoyed meeting food and drink businesses from around Caithness and the rest of the Highlands. The most local to me, based right in Wick, is SHORE which harvests seaweed from around the Caithness coastline!
Shore Seaweed gifted me a bag of their dulse variety for the purposes of the recipe at the end of this post.
SHORE harvests seaweed from around the Caithness coast, and processes it in their factory in Wick, before it is used to make their crispy puff snacks.
Much of the Caithness coastline is easily accessible for harvesting seaweed, and there are five species which are easy to locate. Detailed surveys of the coastline takes place so that harvests can be safely planned around the county according to low tide times.
On a harvesting shift, six workers can gather up to as much as 500kg in one shift, which obviously can be a slippery affair traversing the rocks. Harvesting is carried out sustainably, with plants cut close to the base to facilitate good growth.
Once the harvesting shift is complete, the seaweed is transported to the factory in Wick to be processed. The first stage is to empty the bags and give it a thorough wash , after which it goes on trays ready for drying, the second stage.
Once the drying stage is completed, it’s onto the dry processing stage – checking the quality according to industry standards, and then chopped into different sizes.
Then, it’s finally bagged up and stored, ready for shipping and to be made into the crispy puff snacks -these are made elsewhere in the UK but purely Scottish seaweed goes into them.
With Caithness’s once world-renowned fishing industry all but gone, I think it’s great how new industries like SHORE can forge their way ahead for new generations. These crispy puff snacks also pack a punch – particularly the sweet chilli and thai flavours – these are the favourites in the Barrie household!
I was also kindly gifted a bag of seaweed to experiment with in the kitchen. After some reading of the different flavour profiles, I chose dulse becuase of it’s salty unami quality.
I made some sundried tomato and dulse crackers (which were good but need a bit of tweaking so I’m going to post the recipe for these later on in the year once I’m totally happy with them) and some very easy cheese straws for which the recipe is below.
The seaweed gives a deeper saltier flavour to the cheesy pastry goodness, and is a super easy recipe that anyone can follow. Plus, they look impressive without any major effort!
- 1 shortcrust puff pastry sheet (approx 375g)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 40g grated grana padano cheese or similar, plus extra for sprinkling
- 7.5g dulse seaweed (mine was chopped to 6mm)
- Preheat the oven to 200c (190c fan), gas mark 7 and lay a sheet of baking parchment onto two baking trays.
- Roll out the puff pastry sheet onto a sheet of baking parchment, and brush with some of the beaten egg.
- Mix the cheese and seaweed together then sprinkle over the sheet of pastry, making sure not to go to close to the edge of the sheet.
- Fold the sheet of pastry along the short edge, and use a rolling pin to roll the pastry until it is a third bigger than it’s original size.
- Use a sharp knife to cut thin strips (around 0.5cm) and twist each end to get the twisted effect. I got 20 strips out of one pastry sheet.
- Place onto the baking trays, and brush with the remaining beaten egg. Sprinkle some additional grated cheese over the top.
- Bake for 18 (check after 15) minutes, then leave to cool slightly on a cooling rack. Best eaten warm.
Thanks to Shore Seaweed for their time, images in this post and of course the gifted bag of dulse.