Foraging and cooking seaweed might not be at the top of your to-do list, but once you’ve spent some time on one of Jayson Byles’ workshops you’ll be adding it to your meals regularly.
With many of us unaware of how to go about finding the 2021 superfood of the year or even what to do with it, Jayson Byles’ plan is to help us develop more of an understanding and build confidence through his seaweed workshops.
Running from August 9-15 and 22-27, Jayson’s seaweed workshops in the East Neuk of Fife give curious foodies an insight on how to find and cook your own seaweed.
This was his main motivation in starting the workshops.
He said: “It’s seen as a bit of a luxury product, which is madness as it’s right on our doorstep and all people need is a bit of confidence to go and eat it.
“For me, a big reason that I started it is because we’ve got all this amazing seaweed right on our doorstep here in Scotland and yet we don’t have much of a culture of actually eating it.
“I think the main thing that is holding people back is just education and knowing about it and what you can do with it. For me, that was a massive incentive and I’ve been running the workshops now for over two years. ”
All in the mix
Taking in a mix of foraging, seaweed identification, discussion and a cooking masterclass by Jayson himself, the workshops help participants understand the superfood a bit more and how they can find it and make it work for them.
“In the workshops I talk about safety and how to go about harvesting seaweed safely and sustainably,” added Jayson.
“We go out, do a bit of foraging, do some identification of different types of seaweed and then we normally start the cookout and I will cook a few dishes.
“That doesn’t sound like much but it can take about four hours as the guests will also have lots of questions and we’ll spend some time doing introductions and talking about our experiences of seaweed.
“The rest of it is talking about food and flavours and how you can incorporate it. I love to just blow people’s minds on these workshops about what you can actually achieve and how easy it is to use as well.”
According to Jayson, seaweed can be easily incorporated into anyone’s diet and goes well with a whole host of foods that contain umami, which can usually be found in meat, dairy and some fruits and vegetables.
“As meat has a lot of umami in it, it goes really well with seaweed. So when I can I like to cook the seaweed with bacon, but if anyone is vegetarian or vegan then it would be slightly different,” Jayson continued.
“My answer, when people ask what to do with seaweed, always is whatever you’re already cooking with and flavours you’re already using, try and incorporate a bit of seaweed with it and see how you go – worst case scenario you’ve had a great day at the beach and the seaweed will look great in your garden!”
In terms of the workshops themselves, Jayson, who originates from New Zealand, prefers small intimate groups, though he can cater for slightly larger private functions of up to 15 people, so that everyone is able to fully enjoy the experience.
He said: “Normally I like to keep the workshops quite intimate and keep it between six and eight people. Obviously, if people all know each other then it’s a bit easier.
“Sometimes people come along with their notepad or they’ve got their phone out to take notes but I just tell them they don’t need to remember anything from the day as I actually give them several documents to take home.
“They get a big 52-page booklet that I wrote that talks about how to be sustainable and respectful but also how to keep yourself safe when you’re out there.
“Then I also give them a 12-page seaweed identification booklet that’s got lots of photos and some recipe ideas. I don’t actually give away any of my recipes but I give a lot of ideas.
“During the workshop I just want people to enjoy the moment and being out there.”
Prices for Jayson’s “Seaweed School” workshops are £55 per adult and £10 per child aged 5-15 years old. Locations vary depending on weather and the season, so Jayson will tell you where you’ll venture once you book.
Lots of workshops are still available throughout August, so take a look at the website here for more information or to sign up.