Laverbread cakes

Laverbread is a real pub quiz question of a food. It’s a Welsh delicacy, an iodine-rich puree made from simmering Porphyra laciniata, a purple seaweed, for hours. The resulting paste looks unprepossessing, but tastes fabulous. Like oysters, its flavour is redolent of the sea – to eat laverbread is to imagine yourself standing on a rockpool-surrounded beach, breathing the salty, ozone-thick spray.

I’m lucky enough to have married into a family full of food-loving Welsh ladies. Dr W’s mum makes sublime Welsh cakes (little griddle cakes packed with currants) when we visit; she even has a special gas burner that lives in the cupboard especially for griddling purposes. (Yes, I plan to steal the recipe one day.) Her sister, Auntie S, still lives in Wales. Because she is totally fabulous, Auntie S sent a Welsh hamper to me here in the grim fens for my birthday. Alongside the tea blend, the Welsh honey, the plum jam, the whisky marmalade and the Caerphilly oatcakes lay a jar of pickled cockles and my first ever tin of laverbread. Straight out of the tin, it’s unprepossessing stuff (see the picture below), but it smells tremendously seaside-y, and licking the end of a finger dipped into it confirms that it’s delicious.

There are always pinhead-milled oats in the cupboard (I like porridge for breakfast), and a favourite Welsh application of laverbread is to mix the dark paste with fine/medium oatmeal to bind it and make it crisp, then to fry it in bacon fat and serve it alongside a cooked breakfast. I also added a non-traditional shallot to the mixture, which was extremely good, adding a base of sweetness against the iodine saltiness of the seaweed. (The shallot is strictly optional and not remotely Welsh.) Making these laverbread cakes took all of ten minutes, and they’re among the tastiest things I’ve eaten in months. To make about eight little cakes (enough to serve two – you’ll want four each because they’re gorgeous) you’ll need:

120g tin laverbread
50g fine/medium oatmeal
1 shallot
A couple of tablespoons of bacon fat

Dice the shallot very finely, and mix well with the laverbread and oatmeal until you have a thick paste. Form the paste into flat patties about five centimetres in diameter and a centimetre thick. Fry in the hot bacon fat in a non-stick pan for about three minutes a side, until the laverbread cakes are crisp and brown. Serve immediately as part of a cooked breakfast.

12 Replies to “Laverbread cakes”

  1. Tig – God yes, I love samphire. I found a fishmonger in Blakeney last year that stocks it – I’m planning on a return visit with a coolbag this summer.

    Helen – it was by a company called Parson’s, iirc.

  2. Jenny – I did a swift Google, and found that you can buy laverbread direct from Parson’s Pickles. Unfortunately, they only sell it in packs of ten tins, but it’s not very expensive and I’m sure any foodie friends will be happy to take some off your hands!

    Ooh – I see Tig has just posted a further comment pointing you at another supplier. Thank you Tig! And yes, I’ll try to remember about the samphire.

    GSE – I’m not surprised. I’ve never been able to find any non-twiglike samphire outside Norfolk. It’s worth the drive from here; only about 70 miles to Blakeney.

  3. so glad you posted this. i was in fishguard last summer and insisted on coming home with a tin of laverbread. but i didn’t really know what to do with it until now. will crack open the tin this weekend and give your recipe a try.

  4. Tune in next week for another exciting episode of “The Great Food Of Britain”. Next week Liz will be stuffing a haggis while preparing a Yorkie Pud and baking Irish Soda bread. Actually, this might be a good idea for a month long theme blog. I know you guys get such wonderful TV programmes in the UK. Unfortunately they do not share them with their Bulgarian counterparts.

  5. Hi John. I’d be very happy to make my own haggis, but I’ve no idea where you buy lungs in these parts. I’ll keep Things British in mind, though; I’ve always wanted to have a go at a Bedfordshire Clanger…

  6. Thankfully, we do have a proper butcher – and I love him dearly. All that said, I think I’ll leave any haggis-butchering blogging to you, Tig!

  7. I’ve never heard of a Bedfordshire Clanger but looked it up and see that it’s savoury and sweet, all at the same time. I do however have a friend, who’s got a mum, who’s got a neighbour, who makes the best Yorkshire Growlers known to man. Pork pies to you and me and they are an absolute must for any picnic occasion.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *