What is algae ice

Have you ever eaten algae ice cream? Or raw sea spaghetti?

Admittedly, the thought of the sea taste in dessert doesn't exactly make my mouth water. But I trust.

Because:

"It's a matter of the head."

The man who says this is none other than the famous star chef Paco Pérez. The man, who already runs two two-star restaurants in Spain, made a special trip to Berlin from Catalonia.

The "5-Cinco by Paco Pérez" in Berlin-Mitte was his first project outside of his country. The restaurant in the luxury hotel Stue has been awarded a Michelin star since 2013. Usually the quiet big boss watches his team around the great head chef Andreas Rehberger from a distance using a video camera.

But he wants to take care of the presentation of the dishes with algae, which are often found in special dishes in his houses. Because he's now a friend, says Bibiana Canosa del Rio from the Galician seaweed supplier “Porto Muiños”.

Lettuce and seafood pasta

20 years ago, when they started to harvest algae, they gave them away to Spanish restaurants to get them excited about their products. Paco Pérez was one of the first to cook with them. “So far, algae have only been used in the kitchen in Asia,” she reports as she spreads her sea vegetables on the table.

Hm, looks like lettuce. And like tagliatelle, only in a strange color.

In fact, the green alga is called "sea salad" and the brown noodle is called "sea spaghetti" (also known as belt tang). The fact that the brown alga tastes a bit like beans is even more confusing. However, the “sea salad” actually tastes a bit watery and lettuce, more precisely: intensely like sea water.

Both have a high protein and fiber content, lots of vitamins A and B, C and E. Algae are an important product, especially for vegans, because of their high protein and sometimes high energy content.

The family business "Porto Muiños" has been collecting and processing algae since 1998. Son Anton dives every day for the green, brown, red and black vegetables. Some, like Codium, can be found on the surface directly on the rocks. For others like Wakame, it has to go down seven meters.

The algae can then be kept in the refrigerator for 15 days or even 18 months if salted! The salt then only needs to be washed off thoroughly before consumption.

The Spanish company sells 350 products, 32 of which are fresh algae and 7 are dried. Bibiana Canosa brought some with her.

Fancy a little algae study?

Algatinado

Looks like a coral. Or a root, the smell is reminiscent of earth. The crispy seaweed is used in salads or in stews because it has a thickening effect.

Dulse

The taste is reminiscent of crustaceans, the seaweed is slightly crispy and is therefore used in salads and baked as a snack.

Irish moss

Also called cartilage wrack. As the name suggests, it tastes gristly, slightly like seafood. It can be breaded, deep-fried, used for desserts, but also raw in salads.

Codium

This seaweed has an intense, juicy sea taste, the texture is rather spongy. It is used cooked as a vegetable and can also be used to flavor oil.

Codium is Paco Pérez ‘favorite algae. “It's the 'Flavor of the Sea' - the taste of the sea,” he says. For him, algae go well with many ingredients, they would especially harmonize with milk and its products.

And of course with fish. Chef Rehberger also presents samples of red mullet with algae vinaigrette (with which the Cinco also competed in the “Chef of the Year” competition) ...

... but also as a dessert: Lemon tart with kombu ice cream and Krausserntang crumble.

How does that taste?

To be honest: really delicious. The sweet, slightly sour tart balls cushion the light sea aroma, the ice cream is as refreshing as a light sea breeze, rounded off by the gentle smoke aromas of the kombu algae. The consistency of the Irish moss gives it a bit of bite. It gets messy with the green algae balls underneath.

When the gin and tonic starts to glow

And now it comes: the alga even appears in cocktails!

Not in their slippery whole-body form, but dried as a powder. Ever heard of spirulina? Me, yes. The microalgae, which belongs to the blue-green algae (and no, is not harmful as in high concentration on lakes in summer), is a dietary supplement that is high in protein and vitamin B.12Salary from. I met Spirulina years ago at a trade fair, where a possible effect against cancer, allergies, etc. was advertised.

In fact, it was named "Best Food of the Future" by the World Health Organization back in 1974.

The powder has a cool effect: it turns turquoise green! This is how my gin and tonic shines to match my dress.

Information:

5-Cinco by Paco Pérez in the Hotel Stue, Drakestrasse 1, Berlin-Mitte, Tel. 311 7220

Opening hours:

Tuesday to Saturday: 6:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.

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