6:00 am on 12 June 2017

Seaweeds are an important part of the Māori diet, containing up to twenty times the minerals of the plants we can grow or gather on land. Seaweeds are particularly beneficial to our thyroid gland, which needs a good supply of iodine to be healthy.

Karengo is a red sea lettuce traditionally harvested on the East coast of the North Island in August and September. It is common to see clumps of karengo hanging on the fence to dry in these parts. If you gather your own karengo be sure to clean off the sand and salt with lots of fresh water before drying. As with all Hua Parakore kai, ensure that your harvesting grounds are free from contamination.

How to use karengo

-    To prepare fresh karengo, boil or steam in a little water with a good dollop of butter for 20-30 minutes.
-    To prepare dried, pour over boiling water and boil for about an hour with a good dollop of butter.
-    Steam karengo in the hangi or umu.
-    Use a slow cooker to steam melt in the mouth karengo overnight. Just cover with water and cook on low.
-    Make karengo salt by gently frying dried karengo in a little olive oil.
-    Make karengo seasoning by mixing crushed fried karengo with equal parts flaky sea salt. Store in an airtight container.  
-    Crumble a little toasted karengo into a cup of hot water or vegetable stock for a quick and warming cup of soup.