nori, laver, slake
Early spring is an excellent time for seaweed foraging. The water and weather is still cool, reducing the risk of organic contamination and many of the seaweed species have fresh new growth from their winter growing season. Being relatively new to seaweed foraging, I have only begun to explore the hundreds of edible seaweeds along the Scottish coast, but I already have some firm favourites. Porphyra (lavers/nori/slake) is one of those. It grows on rocks in shallow water, and when the tide is low, covers the rocks like shiny sheets of black plastic. Don’t let this put you off: carefully harvest the top third of this marine vegetable by cutting it off with scissors, rinse well in clean seawater and then spread out to dry. Being thin, it dries very quickly and can be enjoyed raw or slowly cooked over many hours into laverbread. However, my favourite way to enjoy Porphyra is quickly toasting the dried black sheet in the oven until it turns bright green, tender-crispy, and fragrant. These toasted sheets of Porphyra are similar to the Japanese nori sheets and can be used like them for making sushi rolls, topping noodle soups, or for enjoying on their own as incredibly umami, nutritious snacks.
Look for Porphyra at low tide in winter and early spring along our coast line.