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Prannie Rhatigan

Monday, 1 March 2010

Prannie Rhatigan - Irish Seaweed Kitchen

Prannie Rhatigan is a medical doctor who has been harvesting and cooking with seaweed, and gardening organically, since childhood. Born and raised in the Northwest of Ireland she has a lifelong interest in the connections between food and health. Irish Seaweed Kitchen is her first cookbook, predicted to become the ultimate bible for cooking with seaweeds.

Prannie holds a BA Honours degree in Psychology (NUI Galway, 1982), a medical degree, (NUI Cork, 1990) and is a qualified General Practitioner (MICGP 1994). She has worked on the national cardiovascular strategy programme and represented the Irish College of General Practitioners on the national steering group for the implementation of 'Smoke Free at Work' in Ireland. An experienced GP she now works mainly in Public Health.

A member of Slow Food Prannie has represented Ireland's finest food abroad on several occasions and regularly gives workshops and lectures on seaweeds and cooking. Her most recent personal work includes exploring the links between genetics, the environment and the benefits of live foods on health and well-being. Married to Johnny Waters they have one daughter, Kate, and live on the idyllic coastline of Streedagh, Co Sligo.

Prannie was in Paris last week where she was awarded the World Gourmand prize for Best First cookbook in Ireland.

About the book:

Irish seaboard lore, recipes old and new, nutritional information and personal anecdote combine with the faintest hint of nostalgia in this refreshingly original mix of common sense and practical cookery. Sourcing, identifying, preparing and storing seaweed for culinary use are all clearly explained in addition to a remarkable collection of over 150 easy-to-follow, creative and delicious recipes, including tips and hints.

Designed to facilitate seaweed users from novice to experienced, there is also a full seaweed recipe index for ease the nutritional properties of each seaweed.

Over 100 colour photographs and original line drawings represent not simply the foods featured, but also provide a glimpse of a unique west of Ireland lifestyle and landscape. Beautifully written and illustrated, the compelling pages highlight seaweeds as a valuable, flavoursome and versatile food recognized for its positive impact on health.

A book to cherish for both its presentation of seaweeds as a culinary component in a highly approachable way, and for its charming sense of time and place.

There are three different ranges of seaweed: red seaweed, brown seaweed and green seaweed.


High in calcium and b vitamins.excellent in miso soup, imparts a chicken like flavour when cooked with rice. Can be used in salads

Sea spaghetti(red):

Good balance of minerals, vitamins and trace elements, good cource of calcium and magnesium. adds a beefy flavour in soups and stews.use in a dish with regular spaghetti to add variety, colour, flavour and texture.


Low in sodium and high in potassium, traditionally used as a substitute for chewing tobacco.

Sea Lettuce(green):

High in iron, Vitamin B12 and protein. Bright and colourful addition to salads, great in omelettes and added to breads.

Green Smoothie with Seaweed

This is our breakfast. Power-packed full of seaweed, fruit and vegetables, this smoothie keeps us energised and hunger at bay until lunchtime and beyond. We start virtually every day with this, since first it was introduced to me in its original form by friend and raw food collaborator, Gaby. By the end of the first week of experimentation I had created my own signature seaweed smoothie about which I enthuse endlessly.

Already popular with many food conscious celebrities, smoothies taste great and this seaweed version packs a major nutrient punch from land and sea sources.

Prepare the smoothie every second day if pressed for time and store, covered in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Remember to soak the seaweed the night before. If you have forgotten then soak it for at least 10 minutes in the morning.

If you do not enjoy icy cold drinks, then use fresh ripe bananas or other fruit.

It can take you 20 minutes or longer to drink/ eat the smoothie and you will need a spoon if it is thick. Put it into a container with a lid if you are on the move. Don't rush it!

If you want to do just one thing for your health, not to mention your taste buds and your
skin, enjoy this smoothie on a daily basis. When you reach your next birthday, acknowledge gracefully, then start counting backwards. You will not be disbelieved.

Yield 1 ½ -2 litres using a Vitaprep blender with a 2 litre jug
Adjust the quantities to suit your blender jug


Seaweed used: Alaria
About 6g (¼oz) dried Alaria, rinsed and soaked in a cup of cold water overnight

. Juice: 250ml (8fl oz) blueberry juice or juice from 2-3 ruby grapefruit, or apple juice
. Seasonal greens: 4 handfuls, choose from spinach, chard, 1-2 dandelion leaves, beet greens, young nettle tops in spring, broccoli, 1-2 leaves of kale, lettuce, rocket, collard greens
. Herbs: a sprig of Mint,Lemon balm, coriander or fennel. Hedgerow herbs when in season
. Fruit: ¼ ripe Pineapple, core included or a handful of frozen berries or half an apple
. 2-3 frozen or fresh bananas, or 3-4 pears
. Spices/seeds: 1 inch of ginger. Ground hemp and flax seeds
. Optional extras: a shake of cocoa nibs, bee pollen
. to sweeten if necessary: a dash of local honey or agave

Two Things to Remember:

Use produce in season and always vary the ingredients.


1. Pour the soaking water from the Alaria into a blender. Chop the Alaria roughly and add to the blender with the juice and pineapple. Blend on high before adding the rest of the ingredients.

2. Gradually add all the greens and fruit leaving the chopped bananas until the end. Add more water or juice if you like. Taste while it is still in the blender so you can adjust the flavour.

3. If the smoothie is too bitter add a little more banana or a small amount of local honey or agave.

4. Cook's tip: to freeze bananas pack them into a plastic container that will hold three bananas and slice into 1cm (½ inch) pieces. Freeze until required. Frozen bananas make the smoothie thick.

Fact Box:

"The important thing about seaweeds is that they are just not land plants...they have so much more to offer with specific components such as; alginates, fucoidans, laminarins, fucoxanthines, phyto-defensive compounds, and specific lipids...all of which just don't occur in land plants and each of which to date has shown strong anti cancer properties. So to reduce seaweeds to land plant minerals, vitamins, proteins and carbohydrates is to overlook their richness and potential value.

...they aren't just some land plant that is weird and grows in the water." Jane Teas, PhD, Cancer Researcher

Nori (red):

Rich in Vitamin B, C and E and beta carotene and highest in protein compared to other seaweeds. Mild nutty taste, great for sushi, toasted or crumbled over salads, in stews casseroles or pesto.

Sugar kelp(brown):

Sweet and delicious seaweed,contains high level of iodine so take care to stay within world health organization recommended levels. Can be soaked and made into crisps. Great in biscuits, cakes, tarts and cookies.

Carrot, Nori and Sugar Kelp Cake

Rich and moist with a nutty texture, this cake has had a presence at every major gathering I've been at over the last twenty years, and is still requested. Where a sumptuously textured crowd pleaser is called for, this is the cake to bake. The quantities can be halved as required for a smaller group.

I learned how to make this fantastic carrot cake from Kathleen Greaney, whom I stayed with while working in Boston one summer. When I got back to Ireland, I experimented with the seaweeds, resulting in this great combination of flavours.

Seaweeds Used: Sleabhac* also called Nori, Sugar Kelp

Serves: 20 portions or up to 40 small finger food portions



. 8-12g/2-3 nori sheets/2-3 heaped teaspoons nori flakes, to prepare see bookmark
. 1 teaspoon ground sugar kelp, to prepare see bookmark
. 600ml (1 pint) light olive oil or sunflower oil
. 225g (8oz) dark brown sugar
. 5 eggs
. 425g (15oz) white flour
. 2 heaped teaspoons baking powder
. 2 heaped teaspoons bread soda
. 675g (1½lb), carrots, grated
. 150g (5oz) walnuts, chopped roughly



. 4 heaped teaspoons butter, softened
. 225g (8oz) cream cheese, full fat
. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
. 100g (3-3½oz) icing sugar, sifted, to taste

Pre-heat oven 190°C/375°F/Gas 5. Oil a large roasting tin 37½ x25x6cm (15½"x10"x2½ deep) with a little of the olive oil/sunflower.


1. Mix the oil and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Beat in the eggs one at a time with a whisk or electric hand mixer.

2. Sift the flour, baking powder and bread soda into another bowl and set aside.

3. Fold the flour into the egg mixture. Add the carrots, walnuts, sugar kelp and nori and mix.

4. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin. Bake for 50 minutes until risen and browned. Cover with parchment paper to prevent further browning.

5. Bake for a further 10 minutes or until the cake starts to come away from the sides or an inserted skewer comes out moist but clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.

To Prepare the Topping:


1. Mash the butter in a bowl. Mash the cream cheese and combine with butter and vanilla. Sieve in the icing sugar and stir until completely mixed.

2. Spread over the top of the cooled cake with a palette knife. Decorate with edible flowers if you wish.

Variation: I use 30g/7-8 nori sheets/2½ heaped tablespoons ground or flaked Irish nori plus 1 extra egg and an extra 3oz of sugar. Omit 30g of the flour if using this amount of seaweed

Mug method: An easy way to make this big cake is to find a mug that has a capacity of 450ml (¾ pint) and use the "mug method" which is:


. 1 ½ mugs of light olive oil or sunflower oil
. 1 scant mug of dark brown sugar, use 1 heaped mug if using the extra amount of nori
. 5 eggs, use 6 eggs if using the extra amount of nori
. 2 mugs flour, scant if using the extra amount of nori
. ¾ mug of walnuts
. 2 heaped teaspoons baking powder, use 3 heaped teaspoons if using the extra amount of nori
. 2 heaped teaspoons bread soda
. 3 mugs of grated carrots