Having alluded to the culinary possibilities of freshwater red algae in my post of 22 April, I decided that I really ought to lead by example. So whilst I was in the River Wear last weekend, I waded out to a fast-flowing stretch and ran my hand across the downstream side of submerged boulders until I felt the familiar rough filaments of Lemanea. I pulled out a good handful and put it in a plastic bag then, when I was home, gave it a good rinse in tap water. Lemanea only thrives in clean rivers so the health risks of eating Lemanea are minimal. Nonetheless, a good wash is always a sensible precaution.
Here’s the recipe: place two trout fillets on a piece of aluminium foil, season, dot with butter and sprinkle with crushed sorrel leaves. Wrap the fillets and place in a hot oven for about 15 minutes.
Wash two servings of new potatoes and chop each into two or four pieces, depending on size, boil in salted water until almost done. Now heat some butter in a deep frying pan, chop the Lemanea into approximately two centimetre lengths and add these to the butter. Add the potatoes and turn a few times.
Put a bed of water cress on a plate, add a spoonful of the potato and Lemanea mix and top with a trout fillet. Serve with a bottle of cold Muscadet.
In theory you could use local sea trout, collect the water cress from the same river, the sorrel from a neighbouring meadow and grow the potatoes on a local allotment. In other words, the whole meal could be made from produce from a single catchment although, in reality, you might have difficulties getting all these products in season at the same time. It’s a nice idea, though …