Discovering the Joy of Seaweed with Jess Murphy
In an article published by National Geographic Traveller (UK) about cooking with the “most Irish of ingredients”, New Zealand-born Galway-based chef and restaurateur Jess Murphy discusses the parallels between the two island nations, and seaweed’s spiritual and cultural significance.
“For us, it’s more of a steaming tool, so we wrap whole fish in sugar kelp for steaming,” Murphy, who owns Kai, explains. Sepia-toned, with broad ‘blades’, sugar kelp can grow up to five metres in length, making it ideal for wrapping and protecting delicate foods when cooking over fire. Murphy also adds that seaweed is often “steeped in honeys, vinegars and pickles” in New Zealand, so is far more widely used than in Ireland.
Murphy describes the ways in which she uses different forms of seaweed in the restaurant, sprinkling dillisk onto curls of golden Cuinneog butter for each table and adding it to cheese scones, soda bread and even the water when boiling potatoes.
“It shouldn’t be the preserve of high-end kitchens – we should be cooking with it at home, as well as in hospitals and in schools, too.”
Original article by Patrick Hanlon, National Geographic Traveller (UK), September 2, 2023.