As part of our ambition to start (and hopefully end!) 2016 in a healthy way, we were delighted to be given the opportunity recently to cut down on one of our big weaknesses: salt. This was all thanks to Mara Seaweed, who aim to help people reduce their sodium and salt intake.
We had previously seen Mara (meaning ‘the sea’ in Gaelic) on Dragons’ Den and had been impressed by the product. As well as acting as a salt replacement, Mara Seaweed works well as a flavour enhancer and actually adds its own interesting and diverse flavours to dishes.
We were sent the below selection of Shony, Kombu, Dulse and Applewood Smoked Dulse to try out.
First of all, the selection pack came with a very helpful guide that advised the uneducated (me!) on what to try each blend with. For this reason, my first real foray into the world of Mara was to try a soft boiled egg with Kombu, instead of my usual salt and pepper combination.
In my opinion, the Kombu mixed nicely with the egg and blended in well with the ever winning combination of toast, butter and dipped egg yolk. Of course, in this instance, the real question was whether or not the umami depth would be there without salt. Well, coming from a self-confessed salt fiend, yes it was.
The below picture is of the Dulse. However, the next morning, I found myself a better combination as I entered the world of soft boiled egg and Smoked Applewood Dulse, which I preferred.
Having tried Mara in its purest form, the next challenge was to see what it did when it came up against other meals as a cooked ingredient. For this test, I decided (as part of our health kick!) to try it on a salmon marinade. Using reduced salt soy sauce and a mixture of red onion, chilli, pepper, ginger and garlic, I then added the Dulse to the marinade before popping the salmon in the oven.
With this dish, I expected the cooked salmon to contain quite a flavour punch that I would normally have enhanced with a touch of sea salt after cooking or with some cooking salt during the marinade. By using the Dulse, I of course hoped to avoid doing this and found to my surprise that while the Dulse itself didn’t shine through in flavour (although there was a touch of smoke in the background), it did what I had hoped for and enhanced the flavour in the rest of the dish.
As an added bonus to this dish, the Dulse contains iodine (which apparently is rather good for you!) without tasting of iodine (which is frankly awful as you may know if you have drunk water that has been purified by iodine!).
After an enjoyable experience trying the three different varieties, we then moved onto the final flavour: Shony. In my opinion, aside from the Applewood Smoked Dulse, the Shony was the strongest flavoured variety of Mara we tried. Using it to coat butter fried sprouts and enjoying these with a venison pie was an enjoyable experience as the Shony brought a bit more flavour out of the sprouts when combined with the butter.
In the same dish, we used Kombu with the sweet potato mash. Again this brought out the flavours well and replaced the salt and pepper mix we normally use to season our dishes.
So overall, what did we make of Mara Seaweed? Well, Charlotte was less keen than I was as she found the seaweed flavour a touch overpowering on the Dulse. I, however, am a convert. For me, it works excellently to enhance flavours, gives you a decent boost of minerals, and most importantly reduces the amount of salt you use.
While I think the cost could put some people off (it’s about £5.99 for a tin) I would implore you to compare this to how much you would spend on decent sea salt. Also, a little goes a long, long way.
All in all, I look forward to BBQ season when I think the Smoked Applewood Dulse is going to be a big hit on the grill coating our food!
Oh, and if you fancy trying Mara Seaweed for yourself, you can check them out here or keep an eye on our blog for our upcoming giveaway! More details to follow soon.
Disclaimer: We were sent the Mara Seaweed products free of charge to try them out. All opinions are my own and I was under no obligation to provide a positive review.
Categories: Cooking Experiences