After spending time exploring the seashore with folk, sharing the wonders that can be found there and collecting some edible species of seaweed, I take people back to cook up a wee taster of three course meal (well a canapes/starter) and for the dessert I make a carrageen pudding. After having been asked often to share the recipe I use, on camping stove and either a fridge or cool box with ice blocks, here is the recipe.
The ingredients needed are:
Irish moss or False Irish moss (here called carrageen) – Fresh around 20 to 25g, dried 6g to 8g, roughly cut
Single cream or full fat milk (from somewhere like the Gigha Wee Island Dairy) – 300ml per 20-25g of seaweed
Something to flavour it with – I use Scottish honey, preferably local or from Udny Provender, however using a coulis from seasonal available berries will work as well (though added once cooling has started). This recipe uses honey.
If you want to make this a vegan pudding, then could try using coconut cream or soya milk with some vegetable oil (about a teaspoon).
Pour the cream/ milk into a saucepan and gently heat on a low heat. Add a teaspoon of honey and the carrageen and stir. It is important to keep an eye on this as it heats. Once the liquid is hot, do stir occasionally, the hot liquid will start to soften and bleach the carrageen, lift out the carrageen to check on its condition as well as the thickness of the liquid. As soon as the cream is thicker and drips in gloops off the soften and green to yellow looking carrageen, remove off the heat and pour through a colander or sieve into a jug. Pour the liquid into shot glasses, small pots or ramekins and leave to cool before transferring to the fridge. They should start setting after 20 minutes but ideally leave to set for 1 hour. Sould be able to get 4 ramekins or 10 shot glasses worth of pudding.
This pudding or warm milk drink is a traditional Irish and west coast Scotland (especially on the islands) dish that was often used as a remedy for colds or flu (read The Seaweed Kitchen or the Irish Seaweed Kitchen for more details). I have had a few older folk, especially on Islay, tell me how they were given a carrageen pudding or milk drink when they were children. Does it work as a cold remedy? Studies into possible anti-viral properties of different carrageenans started over 40 years ago and interest peaked again in the late 1990s. There is evidence as published by Gonzales et. al. in 1987 in their paper “Polysaccharides as antiviral agents: antiviral activity of carrageenan”, of carrageenan inhibiting the herpes virus from replicating in cells and spreading further between cells in a culture and a review by Witvrouw and Clercq in 1997 looked at the evidence of in vitro studies showing carrageenan inhibition of the HIV virus. More recently in 2012, Tang et. al. (in the Journal of Applied Polymolecular Science) in their work with k-carrageenan showed it had significant inhibitory effect of the influenza virus in mice. Though only a few examples, it does suggest that actually that yes it is possible that carrageen pudding would at least help slow the development of the common cold virus in someone who was starting to show signs, allowing at least in this instance for the body to respond. When I mention this, the response is along the lines of a good humoured “who would have thought such old wives remedies do work?”. So the cream and the fat content may not be the healthiest but the other benefits of the honey and the carrageenan surely make this a pudding worth serving.
If you have any comments or would like to share your own seaweed cooking stories, please leave a comment here, email me, post on my Facebook page, on Twitter (@seaweedonaslate) or even Instagram (@seaweedonaslate). I will happily receive normal mail as well.
Safe and happy times on the seashore if you go!