Fusion Food: Seaweed Butter for Martini Canapés


Seaweed butter on a cracker with tsukemono cucumber pickles in the background.


I recently enjoyed a discovery taster menu at the beautiful Michelin-starred Greenhouse restaurant in London’s upscale Mayfair area.


I didn’t have any martinis as I didn’t want to spoil my palette before the dining extravaganza but the setting was beautiful, the food utterly inspiring and the service convivial and professional; in-depth but relaxed. What a treat! It certainly set my martini-obsessed brain into overload thinking of new potential ideas and experiments.


The exquisite nine-course menu contained a range of surprising and inspiring combinations, including cauliflower mousse with crab meat and mint jelly; scallop and yuzu tartare; grilled beef and pineapple and even the most gourmet version of cheese on toast I’ve ever heard of.


Did I mention the oyster, abalone and lettuce ravioli in a dashi stock?

Taking me by surprise once again was the fact that one of the most notable dishes we enjoyed was the bread course near the beginning. We were offered a selection of bread types (I chose the Chestnut bread) and two types of butter with a pinch of salt: one standard doux (unsalted) butter and one mixed with Cornish seaweed. I instantly gravitated to the latter and I wasn’t dissatisfied! The salty, umami creaminess was unwordly.


So being the seaweed obsessive that I am, I tried to make my own version of the butter.

I tried to keep it simple as I’m not very skilled but evidently you can make a pretty tasty version without too much effort. Not a patch on the fine work of the Greenhouse but enough for me nonetheless.


It looks a bit gross but bear with me on this one.


I took 300g butter (I chose lighter Lurpak) and mixed it throughly with a generous punch of salt and three crumbled sheets of nori seaweed.


I then put it back into the butter tub and returned it to the fridge. I’m told it will last until the original sell-by date of the butter. Maybe even a little longer because of the salt. You should also be able to freeze it.


After that it’s fairy versatile! The salty-umami combination, served chilled, is highly tantalising on bread, crackers, oatcakes or rice cakes.


It can also be used to top cooked food such as potatoes or fish.

I’m still playing around with other possibilities.


Inspired by a combination of Japanese makizushi rolls and a traditional British snack I made a triple-decker cucumber sandwich using the seaweed butter and a smear of wasabi, then cut it into small squares to serve with some martinis.

New AND retro.

My friends who normally make fun of me for serving what they term “alien food” said they were surprised to find it quite nice.

Thanks for the support guys!


I also had a go using it with scallops…


As well as in sushi. I’ll blog about these later.

Otherwise I’ll keep on experimenting but if I’m honest it’s really nice simply spread on some good quality bread!

Till the next time…

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Martinis and Seafood

Seafood goes well with a martini. The salty freshness compliments the sharp but oily astringency of a cold martini. Seafood also has an air of simplistic luxury, thus making it a natural pairing for the drink.

I’ve put together a couple of examples of things I’ve made/served or otherwise eaten with a martini over recent months. While some of these things have been in London, lots have come from my original homeland in the Hebridean islands.

  
Here are some croustades filled with fish roe topped with thin strips of lemon peel. They’re savoury and bite sized, with interesting textures (mainly the crunch of the croustade and the fresh bursting of the eggs in your mouth).

  
Scallops are one of my favourites. Our very kind neighbours gave us a huge tub of them the other day and mum fried them briefly in bacon fat from the morning’s breakfast. This combination involves quite a high concentration of cholesterol so don’t eat them all yourself. Consume in moderation and share them with friends or family.

  
Here are some miniature blini with hot smoked salmon and sour cream.

  
Squid is good.
  
I like oysters even more than scallops.

  
Maki rolls are nice, healthy and diverse, although I wouldn’t normally eat high quality sushi at exactly the same time as a martini as the intense gin flavour could overpower the subtle tastes of things like sashimi. I would rather have a martini with some kind of salty, more robust appetiser first then eat the sushi with tea or beer as a more gentle accompaniment.   

 I’m not going to say no if you twist my arm though. Here’s a martini served with some salmon sashimi on shredded cucumber with flaked bits of crunchy salmon skin sprinkled on top, alongside gari, soy sauce and a daikon relish. 

 
Grilled lobster is nice for special occasions although it can be a bit fiddly to eat while you balance your martini glass. Once in a while though…
  
Here are some more croustades containing fish roe (garnished with dill and small strips of lemon peel), as well as some Japanese seaweed crackers.

  
Here is some very simple roasted salmon skin. Not everyone seems to like the skin… but I definitely do.

  
You can get all sorts of goodies in Borough Market if you’re in London.

  
Or if you happen to live in the Hebrides you might have some generous fishing neighbours who occasionally drop off a bucket of some oceanic harvest. Langoustines (here donated by a very kind cousin) are excellent for communal eating and drinking.

  

They even work as a garnish.

  

While not technically a ‘seafood’ Samphire Grass is collected from the seashore and can usually be purchased in a fishmongers around June. It makes a tasty, crunchy, briny and fresh accompaniment to a martini and even an unusual garnish.
  
This is a Scandinavian-style platter I put together for some friends at mid-summer last year. It’s also good for communal eating and drinking.

  
This one was dead easy. It’s prawns in a coriander and honey dressing, on this occasion served with a coriander martini. 

 
Here are some more scallops, this time pan fried in butter with pancetta.

  
These are salmon tartare canapés. They’re a bit more fiddly but I love the sharp citrus tang of the oily smooth salmon on a crunchy cracker. It does seem to lend itself to a martini. There also seems to be a seductive element of risk involved in eating raw flesh which I think lends itself beautifully to the stark danger of drinking one or two martinis.

  
And finally, the dead easy but exotic Latin American treat: a Ceviché and Leche de Tigre martini. This variation recipe is one of my favourites.

  I was lucky enough to be introduced to seafood at an extremely early age by my dad, who was a scallop diver working off the west coast of Scotland at the time. I will think of him every time I eat it for the rest of my life.