Seaweed gin? Go on so!

We love Galway chef JP McMahon. We love his restaurants, his food and the way he seems to effortlessly put things that shouldn’t go together, together.

And so, when we hear that JP thinks that seaweed should be a national food, we are all ears.

I remember always having Dilisk in the house when we were kids. I’m not sure how it got there, why it was there or what we did with it. But there is was, in a press, always. I recently found a stall selling it at a market down the country, so I bought some. Nostalgia I guess. And now, there it is again, in the press, with no obvious use clear to me.

But it does seem that Seaweed is having a moment in the sun lately. I see it popping up in food, in cosmetics and in some trendy (probably JP McMahon’s) restaurants.

Irish Aquaculture, as it is being called, is on the increase according to Bord Iascaigh Mhara, the Irish seafood development agency.

It is being praised, not only for it’s health benefits in cosmetics, Seaweed, but it is also a fat-free, protein-rich food that is being used in all types of cuisines.

Birgitta Hedin-Curtin, chairperson of the Burren Slow Food Festival and the owner of the Burren Smokehouse has seen the growing interest in seaweed, since moving to Ireland from Sweden in the 1980s.

“Seaweed is one of the things that is unique to Ireland and unique to the coming-and-up Irish cuisine,” she said. “The seaweed on our shores is very clean and natural. There is nothing in it that shouldn’t be there and it is very rich in protein, iodine and minerals.”

The Burren Slow Food Festival even had Seaweed gin! Sliabh Liag Distillers from Co Donegal use five locally harvested seaweeds to make An Dúlamán Maritime Gin. Types of seaweeds used  include Sweet Kombu, Dulse, Pepper Dulse, Dulaman, and Carrageen Moss.

But it’s not just artisan supermarkets and market stalls that champion our seaweed. Supervalu now carry a range of seaweed-inspired products made by Irish producers, including This is Seaweed, the Connemara Organic Seaweed Company and The Laughing Oyster.

Joyce’s supermarket in Galway sells Seaweed soda bread and a lovely man in the Galway market sells seaweed foot soaks with Epsom Salts, which he brings in from Furbo.

Joanne Faulkner is a shiatsu practitioner using modern food and ancient Chinese medicine to help tackle a range of health issues and she can’t say enough about the benefits of seaweed.

“I recommend eating seaweed every day in some form. It can be sprinkled into stews and, after a little soaking, tossed into a stirfry,” she says.

In Chinese medicine, seaweeds are considered to have a cooling effect, bringing fluids to the body which help hormonal and nervous system function.

They also aid digestion by ensuring the uptake of minerals from food and helping toxins to leave the body, helping to detoxify the liver, thyroid and blood.

Based on that alone, I’m off to find some recipes for my Dilisk!

You can get some of your own here:

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