CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Devon Life today CLICK HERE

Seaweed made simple with Ebb Tides

PUBLISHED: 10:01 20 February 2017 | UPDATED: 10:02 20 February 2017

Tony Coulson of Sidmouth-based Ebb Tides has been eating seaweeds for much of his life

Tony Coulson of Sidmouth-based Ebb Tides has been eating seaweeds for much of his life

Matt Austin

Coastal people have eaten seaweed since ancient times. Now the maritime ‘superfood’ is being hand-harvested on the shores of East Devon and scooping food awards. As Sharon Goble found out, it’s surprisingly simple to cook with

Beans on toast with seaweed? It may sound an unlikely combo but it’s fast becoming one of my favourite breakfasts. I’m not talking slimy green stuff strewn over my morning pulses. This kelp is dried, comes in a handy grinder, and imparts a subtle earthy flavour. It’s also incredibly good for you. What’s more, it’s harvested sustainably by one man right here on the foreshore of East Devon. Now that’s what I call keeping it local.

Tony Coulson of Sidmouth-based Ebb Tides is the man responsible for my recent culinary adventures with seaweed. He’s been eating seaweeds for much of his life since first spotting them in a health food shop some 30 years ago. “My body fell in love with them before my head,” he tells me. “I just felt they were doing me good.”

When I meet Tony on the beach on one of his harvest days, I’m surprised to discover he hails from land-locked Nottingham where he started out as a psychotherapist. At the time, fly-fishing was his hobby but he became hooked and decided to re-train in fisheries and agriculture. He spent a long stint in Scotland working in aquaculture and fisheries, before falling in love with Sidmouth on holiday and deciding to relocate from the far north to the far south. After more than a decade working in environmental protection, he again looked to the sea for inspiration when he decided to set up his own business in 2016.

“I knew seaweeds were becoming more popular and the market seemed to be largely untapped for this sustainable food, so I started doing some research and found that the East Devon coast has an abundance of seaweed. I gather twelve different species. There are 10,000 species across the world, of which 99% are in theory edible but many are too small to eat, or don’t taste good.”

Tony Coulson of Sidmouth-based Ebb Tides has been eating seaweeds for much of his life Tony Coulson of Sidmouth-based Ebb Tides has been eating seaweeds for much of his life

Britain’s foreshore is owned by the Crown Estate, so Tony had to apply for a licence before he could set up commercially. He believes he is one of only three people licensed to harvest seaweed in the UK. He rotates sites along his ‘patch’ of the Jurassic Coast, working closely with Natural England to ensure seaweed is harvested sustainably and ethically.

Tony enlisted award-winning chef Noel Corston to help create his seaweed blends for use as a main ingredient of an alternative, healthy form of seasoning. Used by Noel at his restaurant NC@EX34 in Woolacombe, they are nothing like the sweet greens widely served in Chinese restaurants. As well as the four basic tastes in cookery we are familiar with - sweet, salty, sour and bitter - Noel is a big advocate for a fifth, defined by the Japanese word ‘umami’, which means ‘a pleasant, savoury taste’. Seaweed is a great source of it.

Ebb Tides may be a new venture but it’s already proving a hit with foodies. One of the products, Sea Salad, won silver at the 2016 Food & Drink Devon Awards.

Tony tells me: “I’m looking to simplify seaweed. I have three types, dried to capture all the goodness, presented in resealable pouches and grinders. You can sprinkle them over pizzas, roast meat, salads and stir-fries. You can use ‘Dulse’ in baking and even ice cream. They are incredibly versatile. It’s almost a crime not to utilise these marvellous plants nature has provided.”

So why, I ask, as a maritime nation have we been so slow to catch on to the joy and benefits of eating seaweed? “That’s a good question. I don’t have an answer. There’s evidence that as cavemen, we used to forage along the shoreline for shellfish and seaweed. We seem to be a conservative nation; it’s only in the last decade we’ve become more adventurous with the fish we eat, but I believe there is a growing appetite for seaweed.”

What can I do with seaweed?

Ebb Tides produces four blends:

Kelp has a deep earthy flavour. Super versatile, grind over soups, casseroles, meat and bean dishes or soak whole kelp, then add chopped to pasta and noodle dishes.

Dulse has a rich, smoky flavour with a hint of spice. Grind over roast meat, burgers and stews. Toss into salads and stir-fries. Add to bread, scones and ice cream.

Sea Salad has a delicate green flavour with a touch of pepper. Delicious ground over soups, salad, fish and meat or mixed into bread dough or mashed potatoes. Can be served lightly steamed as a vegetable on its own.

Ocean Spice, launched in late 2016, is based on a Moroccan spice mix blended with dulse seaweed which has a paprika-type taste. Mostly used as a rub for meats, poultry, fish and vegetables. It can also be used in curries and soups.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Devon Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Devon Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Devon Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Food & Drink

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

SU CARROLL breaks bread with charismatic Devon restaurateur Edmond Davari as he embarks on a new venture

Read more
Tuesday, November 27, 2018

We hooked up with RACHAEL JOWITT, head roaster for leading South West coffee roastery, Voyager Coffee, to hear how the business is developing

Read more
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

From pale ale and real cider to craft beer, Devon is home to a number of real ale breweries and CAMRA award-winners, meaning a good pub is never far away – we pick 16 places to go in Devon to find the best pint

Read more
Friday, November 16, 2018

Devon Life’s readers and followers have been voting for their favourite food & drink stars and we can now reveal our winners who were honoured at our glamorous ceremony at Sandy Park on November 15

Read more
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Public Houses are a cornerstone of life here in Britain, dating back as far as the Roman invasion in 43 AD. Devon is no different and its humble establishments are steeped in history and nostalgia. We’ve taken a look at 11 of the county’s most historical pubs

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A traditional Christmas pudding recipe, served with clotted cream and a brandy Crème Anglaise with a dash of cognac

Read more
Friday, October 26, 2018

Whether you have strawberry or raspberry jam on your scones, or prefer Earl Grey to English breakfast tea, we’ve found 12 of the best tearooms that Devon has to offer

Read more
Monday, October 22, 2018

We’ve spoken to award-winning chef Michael Caines MBE to find out more about Lympstone Manor’s wine celebration evenings and when their new vineyard will produce its first bottle of wine

Read more
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Sunday lunch is an enduring British institution that’s incredibly important to get right. We’ve chosen 12 places in Devon that will guarantee sublime stuffing, mouth-watering meats and Yorkshire pudding perfection.

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

As the winter begins to close in, there’s nowhere better to take refuge than one of Devon’s many cosy pubs. Here are 9 you should look for when needing to escape the nippy British weather

Read more
Thursday, October 4, 2018

Check out Michael Caines’ column in the latest issue of Devon Life where you can read more about what this recipe will be perfect with

Read more
Wednesday, October 3, 2018

We reveal the winner of Devon’s Tea Room / Coffee Shop of the Year. Sponsored by Radio Exe

Read more
Wednesday, October 3, 2018

We reveal the winner of Devon’s Best Sunday Roast. Sponsored by

Read more
Wednesday, October 3, 2018

We reveal the winner of the Pub of the Year award. Sponsored by WBW Solicitors

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search