In fact it’s not bread at all …
It’s actually boiled and minced seaweed (laver): a popular ingredient in Welsh dishes, particularly for breakfast when coated with oatmeal and served with cockles.
I’ve seen Laverbread in croquette form, as part of a creamy sauce and included in hearty soups. Surely something that looks so … umm … sloppy, gooey and downright awful HAS to be good for you!
It is, seaweed is really high in protein and iron, but just look at it! It’s not the most appealing looking of menu items in the raw form so I was keen to see if tasted like it looked. I was really hoping not, as I’m not too keen on the taste of sick.
One thing I love to do when overseas is try to shop where the locals shop and you can imagine my delight when I found the Cardiff Central Market only a five minute walk away, complete with fishmonger that stocked a veritable crate of laverbread. My aim: to try it at home in a few homemade and typically British dishes.
A local tipped me off that the seaweed mush was particularly nice when wrapped in bacon and fried in a pan. Well, that’s not rocket surgery is it? EVERYTHING is better with bacon. Challenge accepted!
Apparently though, you’re meant to coat the laverbread with oatmeal first … then wrap it in the bacon. As you can see, it tried to ooze out of the bacon in the pan but overall the juicy little parcels did stay together well enough to eat.
If you’re used to sushi seaweed, well this isn’t really anything like that. It does have a seaweedy taste for sure but it’s far more mild than the dried nori taste I was expecting and is nowhere near as salty. To be honest I can’t say it would be the starring flavour in any dish but I can appreciate it’s mildness being an excellent ingredient to lots of dishes.
I then used it in a full British meal. Bubble and Squeak topped with sausages and gravy. Stirred through the mixture and baked, the taste of the laverbread was actually a really nice addition to the B&S and I think the warmth released a bit more of the salty seaweed flavour or it simply wasn’t overpowered with delicious bacon.
The verdict: It looks like green sick (or someone suggested something from the other end), it has the consistency of snot jelly, BUT if you can get past that or you’re not the one preparing it in the first place then I think it’s a really versatile and yum delicacy.
It’s helped me to not judge a pile of sludge by it’s gooey exterior that’s for sure!