The blue planet. Earth is covered in a lot of water, which is constantly flowing and moving. The edges of our oceans, the coastal zones, are like any other intermediary area…rich in biodiversity. I’ve spent the last 4 days on the Oregon coast, learning about and harvesting sea vegetables/seaweeds for the first time. The above photo is of some salad made with sea lettuce (Ulva fenestrata).
According to the World Resources Institute over two-thirds of the global population lives within 100 kilometers of a coastline. The Earth Institute at Columbia University released findings from a recent report stating that 634 million people – one tenth of the global population – live in coastal areas that lie within just ten meters above sea level. How could we possibly advocate taking more sea vegetables from our oceans? Controlled development, protection of intertidal areas, controlled release of environmental toxins into waterways, controlled harvesting of sea resources, and more are part of this advocates strategies.
I believe using our coastal resources is a necessary part of a sustainable solution. Sea lettuce is an abundant plant, with the ability to produce up to 4 crops per year. Like so many of the algae, it provides powerful nutrition. To harvest use a pair of scissors to cut a couple of inches above where it attaches (the holdfast) to the rock. The plant can regenerate if not torn from the rock. DO NOT harvest sea lettuce (Ulva fenestrata) from polluted areas. Pay particular note if an area contains only Ulva, as they are able to take up more nitrogen than most species, and therefore grow quite well in toxic areas. See the photo below, showing a healthy patch of sea lettuce (it’s bright green).
I served the Sea Lettuce Salad with some beautiful fresh Chinook salmon from Robin of Wild Oregon. You can buy some of her amazing fish at Sunday’s Hillsdale Farmer’s Market in Portland, OR.
Sea Lettuce Salad
2 c sea lettuce, chopped finely
2 T green onion, sliced
1 small carrot, julienned
1 1/2 T soy sauce
1 t sesame oil
1 T rice vinegar
1 medium-sized clove garlic, pressed or minced
1 t fresh ginger root, or 1/8 t powdered
hot pepper flakes to taste
Thoroughly clean sea lettuce. Sqeeze it dry and chop finely. Julienne carrots, slice green onion, and add to salad. In small bowl mix remaining ingredients. Combine all ingredients and let flavors blend for at least one hour in refrigerator before serving.