Just when you thought you’d had it up to here with getting your greens, along comes Auburn native Josh Rogers to tell you in so many words that kelp is the new kale. You’d rather have a root canal, you think, until you taste all the iterations of food and beverages that creative Mainers are offering this week. Rogers, who owns Heritage Seaweed in Portland, dreamed up Maine Seaweed Week, which is still happening until May 4th.
In Hallowell, The Liberal Cup is infusing their beer named Bug Lager (that’s not a typo) with toasted nori sheets. “You don’t taste the seaweed, but it changes the lager — mellows it — and people who usually don’t like lager now like it. When this one kicks, we’ll do a seaweed blonde ale,” said co-owner Jamie Houghton.
“In order to be included in Seaweed Week, we had to agree to always have a seaweed featured dish on the menu for the week. Our cooks are having a great time with that: a haddock and shrimp cake on a homemade bun made with seaweed. We have a seaweed and tofu soup of the day — has a rich vegetable broth. People who tend not to stray from meat or chowder loved it. We’re surprising people. I knew our chef would jump all over it.”
Asked how the seaweed gets into the brewing process, Jamie Houghton said, “We put it in at the end, like a teabag. Keeps the integrity of the beer.”
Around the state of Maine, chefs, brewers, distillers, bartenders and distillers are getting creative with dulce, kombu, hijiki and the other seaweed varieties that are said by some to be the protein of the future. According to Seaweed Week, Maine is leading the way in a trend that saw US seaweed products increase by 76% between 2011 and 2015.
There are now over 100 kelp farms in the state, making Maine the country’s leader in seaweed aquaculture. Who knew the slimy thing you chased the other kids with at the beach might end up feeding the world?
And according to my favorite nutrition expert, Dr. Michael Greger, creator of NutritionFacts.org, studies show that nori may reduce breast cancer risk. Watch his video and read the transcript at this link: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/which-seaweed-is-most-protective-against-breast-cancer/
Maine Seaweed Week ends May 4th, so check out this link to see which restaurants and venues are participate. http://seaweedweek.org/