Book Reviews - Prannie Rhatigan's Irish Seaweed Kitchen

Prannie Rhatigan?s Irish Seaweed KitchenA remarkable book by any standards, it comes as no surprise find that Prannie Rhatigan’s Irish Seaweed Kitchen (Booklink; full colour hardback 288pp, €35) was many years in the making – the wonder of it is that this wide ranging, searching and very beautiful work ever went to press at all, as its subject is clearly a work in progress for this gifted medical doctor, organic gardener and Slow Food cook.

Growing up on the west coast of Ireland ‘where the rhythm of the tides and lore of the sea still provide a backdrop to everyday life’, Prannie learned about ‘the glistening crop on the foreshore’ and the harvesting pattern of different types of seaweed throughout the year and their uses in the kitchen and garden.

That experience provided the foundation for a lifelong interest in using seaweed as a food, and harnessing its nutritional and medicinal benefits in a way that brings together the traditional Irish uses for seaweed, going back through many generations, and the value laid on seaweed for nutrition and health by Asian cultures – notably Japan, China and Korea – which is now better understood in the west, as contemporary Japanese cuisine becomes mainstream.

The result is a fascinating tapestry of social history, anecdote, practical down-to-earth information (types of seaweed – 15 in this book, in red, brown and green groups; uses; harvesting; preparing; drying and storing), stunning imagery (contributed by at least two photographers and an illustrator) and a unique collection of over 150 recipes – elicited from friends, colleagues, family, and a whole raft of well known chefs and cooks, including luminaries such as Rick Stein and Darina Allen, alongside a core of recipes developed by Prannie and Johnny themselves.

The teamwork involved has been extraordinary- as a glance at the acknowledgments will show – and it’s a beautifully produced book, with great attention to detail throughout, right down to the bookmark with a ‘Quick Guide to Preparing Seaweed’

The timing is perfect for this highly original book, and – even in the unlikely event that you never wanted to cook a single recipe from it – it makes a fascinating read, as well as a wonderful reference for anyone interested in Ireland, food, health or simply life.


Carrot and Sea Spaghetti SaladRecipe for Carrot and Sea Spaghetti Salad

In this salad, contributed by artist and teacher, Diane Roemer, willowy sea spaghetti and delicate carrot strips combine with a sweet garlicky dressing to create a salad as delightful to look at as it is to eat. “Easy to prepare, it never fails to delight even first time seaweed tasters.”

Seaweed used: sea spaghetti

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Seaweed Crepes with PrawnsRecipe for Seaweed Crêpes with Prawns

With Shrove Tuesday and the annual pancake fest coming up in the middle of February, why not try this seafood crepe, created in Malaysia, or something quick, easy and different. Prannie comments: “When asked to contribute a recipe, enterprising seaweed fans Barry and Maggie O'Dowd went straight to the source and called up friends in Asia. Between them all they came up with this recipe. A case of too many cooks getting it just right!”

Seaweed used: Nori

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