Sea lettuce – Re-hydrating and Unfolding the Leaves

sea lettuce

Fresh Sea Lettuce Leaves, vibrant green and delicate

Sea lettuce is attractive because of its vibrant colour, texture and shape.
Sea Lettuce grows around the globe in a variety of shapes., tuffs, ribbons, sheets and more, sometimes it is attached to rocks, other plants or structures and it also found free floating. Its colour can vary with season, location, nutrients in the water and the environment where it grows. Although we love the vibrant green, Sea lettuce comes in a variety of shades from light yellow to very dark green. So don't think the worse if you open a packet and find pieces in a variety of greens!

When you open the bag, the fragrance is going to be grassy but the taste is different, a bit peppery. The taste can be modified by soaking the dried plant into a flavourful liquid like a stock (savoury), a juice (sweet) or a tea (herbal or fruity)! As it re-hydrates, the plant will absorb the flavour 🙂

Sea Lettuce is very light when dried compared to other seaweeds...but fear not, it expands generously upon re-hydration. Because Sea lettuce leaves are so delicate, especially when harvested young, care must be taken when re-constituting them because they might tear easily. It doesn't matter much if they are to be cut small but if you'd like to use the leaf to wrap something or garnish a dish then the difference is in the technique!

First to re-hydrate the leaf: the easiest way is to quickly plunge the desired amount of dried sea lettuce into a bowl of tepid water and retrieve it after a few seconds. Remember that Sea lettuce will expand generously, so be conservative until you have figured out how much it yields (approximately 5 times its dried size). Gently squeeze out the excess water and check that moisture has gone through all the layers. If not, repeat the procedure until moisture has permeated to the middle.
Warning: sometimes littles shells have hidden in the fold of the leaves and have gone un-noticed. Please check the leaves for foreign particules before use.

To separate the leaves: follow the procedure described above to fully re-hydrate the dried Sea lettuce then, very carefully spread the folds and unfold the leaves until you have a single layer (or close). If the plant is not fully re-hydrated, some leaves may remain stuck together and will break under pressure. The same way, if the excess water is not removed, the leaves are heavy with liquid and may tear. What is required is enough moisture to separate the leaves but not so much that the leaf becomes fragile. It may sound like too much trouble but really, once you have the hang of it, there nothing to it and the payback is really worth it!

To chop the leaf: the tool used to chop the leaf is really a matter of preference but what you choose does have an impact on the resulting texture. Although some people like to use the food processor successfully, it tends to turn Sea Lettuce into a paste. If you are to go that route, make sure to use 'pulse' to minimise that risk. Personally I like to use the good old sharp knive. Sea Lettuce is very easy to cut and frankly I find it takes roughly the same time because I do not have to wash the food processor bowl!

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