Laminaria longicruris, also known as Atlantic kelp, thrives in fast flowing subtidal waters. Kelp beds resemble a multi-story forest, with older plants floating on the surface on low tides and first year plants protected underneath. The stipes attach to the rocky bottom and can be over thirty feet long. Its olive-colored leafy fronds commonly reach over six feet. We cut healthy plants at their peak in April and May, leaving younger plants to regenerate. Atlantic kelp is related to kombu, but more tender and faster cooking. Some harvesters market L. longicruris as kombu. We prefer to offer both L. digitata, which is most similar to Japanese kombu, and Atlantic kelp, and let the cooks decide. In general we use kombu for winter cooking, and kelp in the summer and for faster cooking dishes. Kelp is loaded with vitamins and minerals, and naturally tenderizes food it is cooked with.
A delicious all purpose SOUP STOCK can be made by soaking one six inch strip of kelp in four cups of water. Let the kelp soak in the water beforehand, or simply simmer the pot for ten minutes. Remove the kelp and cut it into bite size pieces; it can be added to the soup later with other land vegetables. The kelp can also be left in for a heartier broth.
Kelp tenderizes BEANS and gives them a thick delicious broth. Add a three inch strip of kelp per cup of dry beans to the cooking water. Tear or snip the kelp into bite size pieces so it dissolves into gravy as the beans cook. Sautée onions, garlic, salt, and spices in oil and add to dish.
ROASTED KELP is delicious used as a garnish on top of salads, vegetables grains, and pasta. Begin by tearing or snipping the kelp into small pieces. Roast the kelp at 25o degrees for three to five minutes, or fry in an oiled pan until crisp.