In the deep blue of the sea lies a green universe. And it’s edible, too. For some years now, seaweed has been making its way into the most adventurous cuisine – timidly at first and now ever increasingly. It has been joined by halophytes – plants that grow in saline soils – such as salicornia and samphire (AKA sea fennel). It’s a whole world of veggie sensations bathed by the sea.
“Seaweed gives us juiciness and a touch of saltiness, in addition to all their nutrients,” explains Paco Budia, executive chef of Etxeko Ibiza, Martín Berasategui’s Michelin-starred restaurant on the island. “Being in Ibiza, we have to take advantage of everything that the sea gives us, including halophytic plants.” The restaurant’s ‘El Viaje de Martín’menu plays with seaweed in juices and broths that enhance
the dishes: “When you mix products from the sea and land, you get incredible flavours.” What’s more, they are rich in minerals, fatty acids and fibre: a health boost for the body.
IBIZA’S DNA ON A PLATE
One of the island’s hot spots is the Nassau Group and Edwin Vinke’s 1742 restaurant. The Dutch chef says he has been using “seaweed for quite a few years, as well as halophytic plants such as samphire”. For Vinke, “the most wonderful thing about seaweed is that it can bring the flavour of the sea to your dishes”. He even uses it to flavour the water in which he cooks other vegetables or “as a substitute for salt in meat”.
In Ibiza’s haute cuisine restaurants, you can find numerous examples of seaweed and halophytes sneaking into dishes – a perfect way to transfer Ibiza’s DNA to the plate. From algae such as codium, wakame and nori – essential in Japanese cuisine – to different halophytes or even posidonia, an aquatic plant that is a natural treasure and used as an ingredient in broths or to fla- vour breads that connect with the authentic spirit of the island. There’s a whole green revolution going on under the water.
Seaweed and halophytes: what they’re like and how they taste
This halophyte plant is also called sea asparagus. It’s crispy and salty!
An algae with an elongated shape and a fleshy texture. A classic of Japanese cuisine, it has a mild flavour.
The shape of this algae makes it look like a miniature tree. It is meaty and very tasty.
A halophyte with long leaves and small white or yellow flowers.
It has an intense flavour with hints of anise.