© Simon Bourcier
Seaweed Dare to try these sea vegetables!

Seaweed

As an appetizer, main course, or even for breakfast, seaweed is on the menu! With its exceptional nutritional qualities, this superfood is a delight for the taste buds. Edible seaweed is very popular in Asia and is becoming a food of the future. Brittany boasts the largest production in Europe, and talented Breton chefs successfully emphasise this treasure.

crtb-ad2680-bourcier-simon.jpg Lachez prise avec le Paddle Yoga, pique-nique sur la plage, des algues

Seaweed in Brittany

You can’t miss it when you’re at the seaside, and we think we know about seaweed, but in fact it has many a secret to reveal. Seaweed does not have roots, but crampons, to attach onto rocks. It draws its benefits directly from sea water and is a concentrate of trace elements, iodine, vitamins and mineral salts. Used in farming since the 17th century, seaweed is now an ingredient making a name for itself in Breton cuisine. Out of the nearly 800 species of seaweed in Brittany, around ten edible species are authorised for sale.

Where are they produced?

Spread over the entire coast of Brittany, the large-scale production of seaweed is mainly concentrated in the Iroise Marine Park, as well as off Léon and the Pink Granite Coast. In the Southern Finistère, off the coast of Lesconil Algolesko cultivates nearly 150 hectares in a Natura 2000 site. Brittany is considered the largest seaweed field in Europe and here in these protected zones it benefits from remarkable water quality which allows the seaweed to have the organic certification. Roscoff, “capital of seaweed”, has set up an internationally-reputed research centre dedicated to these marine plants, the Roscoff Marine Station.

How is seaweed farmed?

Seaweed is collected by hand on the intertidal zone at low tide, preferably when it is still immersed in sea water. Laminaria, however, is collected by boat, known as the “goémoniers”, which use worm screws fitted with a hook, also known as “scoubidous”. Seaweed farming is now widespread enough to allow specific varieties to be grown. Once collected, the seaweed is washed to remove it of any residue of sand and seashells.

Find out more about seaweed

Become an expert on seaweed with a visit to

Recognising edible seaweed

Seaweed can be identified by its colour. Note that crithmum and samphire are not seaweed, but marine plants.

Brown algae

  • Thongweed: also known as “sea spaghetti” in reference to its long and flat appearance, it can grow to four metres. It is eaten like a vegetable, boiled or fried.
  • Royal Kombu: this is edible kelp with a meaty texture and smoky taste. It is used to wrap fish or meat.
  • Wakame: it is known as sea fern due to its appearance. It has a salty taste and is ideal in salads or added to soups and hot preparations.

Red algae

  • Dulse: this thin and transparent algae with a full-bodied taste is collected on the Breton coasts and goes very well with shellfish and seafood. It is also served in the form of flakes or crisps.
  • Nori: known as an ingredient in the preparation of sushi, this algae with its slightly smoky flavour is also served in the form of spread, pestos, a condiment or as crisps.

Green algae

  • Sea lettuce: it looks like lettuce, with large leaves, hence the name. It tastes similar to sorrel, making it ideal raw in salads, in smoothies, in crisps or papillote.

Blue algae

  • Spirulina: this micro-algae with an emerald-blue colour that develops through photosynthesis is now famous for its use in cooking, as a dietary supplement or in cosmetics. It has incredible properties to strengthen immunity and make up for deficiencies. It contains three times more protein than meat. Brittany has a growing number of specialised products: Spiru’Breizh (FR) in the Gulf of Morbihan, Dana Spirulina (FR) next to Redon, Cyane in Plougastel-Daoulas, Spiruline de Bretagne (FR) in Douarnenez.

When to eat it?

Harvesting takes place mainly at high tide, when the intertidal zone is uncovered and makes it easier to access the seaweed on the seafront. Picking of kombu royal and wakame takes place at the end of winter. Nori, sea lettuce, dulse and sea spaghetti are collected in the spring. Harvesting stops during the summer, followed by nori, dulse and sea lettuce in autumn.

How to eat it?

There are many ways to enjoy seaweed: cooked like a vegetable; in spreads and preserves to eat on toast as an appetizer; sprinkled in flakes over dishes; in artisanal preserves for a picnic! Ground seaweed can also replace salt. In a gelling agent like agar-agar, it replaces gelatine.

Where to buy it?

There are many seaweed producers and processors in Brittany

Good addresses for trying seaweed



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