Dumont’s Tubular Weed – Edibility, Identification, Distribution

Dumontia contorta

Dumont's Tubular Weed @ GallowayWildFoods.com

Dumont’s Tubular Weed
@ GallowayWildFoods.com

This is a wonderful seaweed that is quite easy to find in the right habitat. Its truly delicious, and occasionally even outshines pepper dulse on my seaweed gastronomy courses. I am indebted to my friend Monica Wilde for introducing me to its charms.

Habitat: In the bottom of rockpools and on relatively sheltered areas of rock in the mid tidal range. See my at-a-glance guide to tidal zonation of edible seaweeds:

Seaweed distribution by tidal range Click image to enlarge © GallowayWildFoods.com

Seaweed distribution by tidal range
Click image to enlarge
© GallowayWildFoods.com

Identification: Most easily identified when floating upright in rockpools when it looks like a straggly rosette of black/brownish (with a hint of red) noodles. Fronds are tubular, branching at irregular intervals, up to about 20cm long. Once you are tuned into it in this form, you’ll soon notice more of it flopping prostrately where it isn’t submerged. It is much browner, smaller and much more fragile than sea spaghetti, and lacks the mushroom-like holdfast. Mermaid’s tresses (Chorda filum) are green, much longer and occur in deeper water.

Edible Uses: Tasty and tender raw, straight from the sea, in salads, sushi etc. Toss them in soups, stews and broths at the last second as instant noodles. I dry them in nests and use them as the base of my instant wild “pot noodles”. They are quite fragile, so break down quickly with extended cooking – drop them in at the last minute. Dust a plateful with flour then scrunch into “knots” before frying hot and quick, or tempura batter and deep fry. Either way, they make wonderful salty beer snacks! Dried and crumbled they make excellent seasoning.

Frying floured nests of tubular weed

Drying nests of tubular weed for uses as seasoning and in wild pot noodles

Harvest: February – July: (Best April/May) Tastes much nicer early in the season. Gather up the floating rosettes in your hand and cut off the tops, or, in this instance, pulling individual or small groups of fronds from their holdfast work well and leaves remaining fronds intact.

Dumont's tubular weed

Dumont’s tubular weed

Related pages:

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