A native of Quebec, Nancy Hinton is a passionate cook with 25 years of professional experience under her belt, and is a long-time devotee to local, seasonal cooking and the Slow Food movement. In 2005, Nancy entered into business with François Brouillard, a pioneer forager in Quebec, and together they run a country restaurant outside Montreal that showcases forest gastronomy with seasonal tasting menus, and a market stall in Montreal, where they sell wild mushrooms, fresh vegetables, herbs, teas and various preserves and dishes, all with a ‘local & wild’ touch.
Chef Hinton and her partner forager François Brouillard consider sea lettuce to be the finest of the local seaweeds, with a pleasant (not overpowering) iode taste, a load of umami, bright green color and tender texture.
It grows off shore in the lower St. Lawrence alongside the marine vegetables that François has been picking for 25 years among the hundred or so different wild edibles on offer at Les Jardins Sauvages, each sustainably harvested in season by François’ team and prepared by Nancy at the restaurant in their dance with nature.
“The sea greens are a rite of summer since I joined François in his wild adventure 15 yrs ago; so when he goes foraging for them in July, I try to get out of my kitchen and help out for a mix of work and play. Then it’s time to move onto the wild mushrooms, our specialty.”
The recipe below brings it all together – land and sea, local and wild, true to time and place and who we are, savory and colorful. The mill next door (Le Moulin Bleu) provides the buckwheat, to complement François’ foraged treasures and the herbs and vegetables from our garden.
Sea lettuce can be used fresh or dry. Like most seaweed, it dries very well and is the best way to ensure no loss of flavour or texture. Nancy uses it in powder form as a flavoured salt or ‘togorashi’, or whole (fresh or rehydrated) as a vegetable in soups and salads, side dishes.
As we move towards more of a plant based diet, marine greens and seaweeds (and mushrooms) are especially useful, providing an important nutritious element and flavor boost.
Buckwheat noodles with sea lettuce and wild mushroom broth, wild ginger kimchi and maple togorashi
Chef Nancy Hinton, Les Jardins Sauvages
Can be served hot or cold depending on the season, light or hearty according to how you dress it up.
200g buckwheat noodles (soba)
15g dried sea lettuce
500ml wild mushroom broth* King Bolete or of choice
30ml soy sauce or light miso
240ml wild ginger kimchi**
30ml (2 Tbsp) sesame oil
30ml (2 Tbsp) ‘maple togorashi’
60ml (4 Tbsp) scallions
60ml (4Tbsp) fresh coriander, basil or mint
To taste salt
30ml (2 Tbsp) dry dulse flakes
15ml (1 Tbsp) dry sea lettuce powder
15ml (1 Tbsp) sumac
30ml (2 Tbsp) Maple sugar (or half raw cane sugar)
60ml (4 Tbsp) sesame seeds
hot pepper flakes (optional)-we like espelette
- Pour boiling water over sea lettuce to rehydrate. Let it sit 20+min. Pull out lettuce, leaving any sand and shells behind. Chiffonade or chop into bite size pieces.
- Heat mushroom broth. Season with miso or soy sauce.
- Cook buckwheat noodles (if fresh 3-5min, otherwise according to packet directions), drain and cool. Mix in sea lettuce and season with sesame oil and salt to taste.
- Combine seaweed flakes with sesame seeds and maple sugar to taste to make togorashi.
- Add noodles to bowl, top with broth and kimchi. Garnish with fresh herbs, scallions and togorashi.
- Top with cooked shrimp, an egg or other protein of choice to make a heartier meal if desired.
* To Make Mushroom Broth: Simmer rehydrated wild mushroom of choice in water for 20min+ (15g/L), strain and keep mushrooms for later use (or simmer longer until tender then chop and add to recipe).
**Kimchi can be bought prepared, or you can make your own: I ferment cabbage, radish, carrots, onion with garlic, hot pepper, wild ginger and 1% salt for 4-5 days – Or substitute with a vegetable julienne seasoned with garlic, ginger, hot pepper…