Laverbread is not a bread. It is a thick paste made from laver seaweed that was traditionally spread on bread or toast. It has a very savoury, umami taste and, in its heyday, was exported – mainly from Wales – all across Britain. It’s a vital source of iodine, hence the pre-war expression “Eat up your laverbread or you’ll get Derbyshire neck” referring to the swelling on the neck (goitre) associated with hypothyroidism caused by extreme iodine deficiency. You can harvest your own on the British shoreline from the first few months of the year on.
One of the things that puts a lot of people off making laverbread today, is that old recipes call for boiling the laver for up to 8 hours to tenderise it. However, I have an incredibly simple way to make it, that also reduces the smell of it cooking, but you do require one vital piece of equipment – a slow cooker!
6 litres of laver seaweed
150ml applecider vinegar or lemon juice
Optional seasonings: Salt, pepper, chilli powder or soy sauce
Wash the laverbread very well in cold running water through a colander. Ensure there is no sand or grit left behind. The squeeze out the excess water in your hands. Fill the crock pot of your slow cooker and add 150ml of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. This helps to break down and tenderise the laver. Put the lid on, switch it onto the high setting, and leave for 8 hours.
I just fill mine in the evening and go to bed! In the morning – instant laverbread! All you will need to do now is make sure that any on the top or sides has become a paste. If in doubt, a quick whizz in the blender or with a stick blender will make sure the consistency is right.
Season to your taste. I sometimes make a chili version or a soy version. It freezes extremely well in freezerbags.
Use to add flavour to cooking as you would use tomato paste or garlic paste. Add to sauces and gravies, or use with oatmeal to make laverballs or lavercakes.