Monday, 10 January 2011

Glorified Laverbread cakes aka the Welsh Vegetarian Burger

My oldest nephew has come up for a long weekend and with him he brought me some goodies from Wales. Here are a few.
Laverbread oatcakes, cranberry cheese - not very Welsh I know, but very seasonal and a bread board inscribed in Welsh 'Bara Cartref wedi ei wneud a chariad' which translates as 'Home made bread made with love'. I have some tinned laverbread too. I actually still have a stash left over from his last visit. Laverbread also known as 'Seaweed bread' is seaweed porphyra umbilicalis gathered from rocks around the coast. It is rinsed repeatedly in changes of water to get rid of grit and sand, then soaked in fresh water to reduce its strong salty flavour. Then it is cooked gently in water until it is reduced to a mush literally. I like to describe it as the 'Saag of the Welsh world'.

I would never have described Laverbread as gourmet food. Apart from the way it looks - jet green, its distinct smell from the iodine content was more likely to turn people off it before they even had a chance to try some. But it seems that things are changing. The 200g tin my nephew gave me cost almost £3.00. Looks to me that laverbread in Wales is making a comeback. The best known dish made with laver is laverbread cakes. Its a very simple recipe, 200g laverbread is combined with 50g rolled oats then fried. It is often served at part of a Welsh breakfast.  Talking of gourmet food, my nephew told me that there is even a Laverbread Caviar, now that is one I look forward to seeing, and if its vegetarian - even trying - so I hope he brings me some next time he comes up to visit me here in Scotland.

Anyway, yesterday in an effort to use some of my store cupboard ingredients one of which included a tin of laverbread, I decided to create some Welsh Vegetarian Burgers for Brunch.
Now in all my time of growing up and living in Wales, I have never ever had a Welsh Vegetarian burger, so thought wouldn't it be cool to create one, or at least attempt to create one using the recipe for 'laverbread cakes' as a starting point. I had bucket loads of leeks picked up on Saturday, but no Caerphilly cheese. You can't make a Welsh vegetarian burger without Caerphilly yells my nephew. He is right. I remembered the last time I tried to make a Welsh recipe I struggled to find Caerphilly cheese in Scotland. I searched high and low for the real stuff, even the West Ends cheesemonger informed they did not keep any. Anyway, determined that I was going to make some burgers with the laverbread and Caerphilly cheese it occurred me to try, this place which opened up early last year. Well I was so glad I did. I was the first person to get a wedge of Caerphilly cheese from the wheel. It wasn't particularly cheap, but it was worth this novelty treat - a little taste of home. These Welsh Vegetarian burgers or 'glorified Laverbread cakes' as my nephew called them, were a great success.

Glorified laverbread cakes aka the Welsh Vegetarian Burger
Makes 5 - 6
Ingredients120g tinned laverbread
75g - 100g rolled oats, medium or jumbo (I used a mixture of both)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large leek, washed and sliced
50g fresh breadcrumbs
50g Caerphilly cheese, grated or vegan alternative
1 teaspoon mustard
Pepper to taste
Vegetable or olive oil for shallow frying
In a bowl, add the laverbread and rolled oats and combine well. Set aside for it to firm up.
In the meantime, heat olive oil and add leeks and cook on low heat until soft. Stir into the laverbread and oat mix, then add in the breadcrumbs and combine well. Gently stir in the Caerphilly cheese or vegan alternative, mustard and pepper to taste. Then divide the mixture into 5 or 6 balls and shape into patties or burgers. You can either leave these in the fridge to firm up or cook immediately. Heat about 4 tablespoons oil, when hot add the burgers, shallow fry for about 4 minutes before flipping over and cooking for another 4 minutes or until golden. Press gently with a spatula if necessary. Enjoy immediately, either in a bread roll or as a side with wedges or chips.


  1. Those look like lovely veggie burgers, I've never foudn laverbread appealing but it looks quite delicious in those burgers!

  2. I love your new banner - it's gorgeous! I so wish we could find laverbread here in the States, because these veggie burgers sound fantastic!

  3. Another fabulous recipe from interesting ingredients. Nice to pop in and see what you have been up to!

  4. I've never even heard of laverbread but you have me intrigued - those burgers look gorgeous and I would love a taste - hope you enjoy your time with your nephew

  5. What a brilliant idea, welsh veggie burgers. I have never tried laverbread but want to. I really like your description of it as the Saag of the welsh world. Fab.

  6. Ooh, what a lovely recipe for vegetarian burgers. I didn't know laver was green, I'd always assumed it was black like nori. Now I want to try some so I can make your burgers.

    We collect a bit of our own seaweed - wash it very well, leave it to dry for a few days and then use it in soups etc.

  7. I am so happy you stopped by my blog. I cannot wait to try some of the recipes you have on yours, thank you.

  8. Isn't it ironic that some of the foods that people used to eat a long time ago simply because they were cheap (or free, like Laverbread) have now become trendy and thus hugely expensive? There was a time when people would eat oysters because they couldn't afford meat.

  9. Thank you sooz.
    I think just as a spread it may be unappealing, but here they are kinda disguised and the flavour mellows!

    Thank you Astra Libris.
    I'm pleased with the new banner too!
    Oh laverbread is so hard to find in the U.K too, that is why my family always shlep me some over from Wales to Scotland. Silly really.

    Hello there dear Moy. It is so good to hear from you. It has been such a long time.
    Happy new year to you.

    Thank you so much Rosaria.

    Oh Johanna GGG.
    I am so pleased to have introduced you to laverbread. Keep your eyes on my blog as i have another two tins to use up, may just make ordinary laverbread cakes for a Welsh veggie breakfast. I read somewhere that is was described by Richard Burton (Welsh actor) as Welsh Caviar. My sweet nephew left yesterday :( He cheers me up whenever he is here.

    Thanks for your comment Dan.Eliot.

  10. Thanks Kath.
    I couldn't help chuckling to myself when I wrote 'Saag of the welsh world'. I wonder if my mother would agree. If you do gt a chance to try laverbread please do, and with most things 'fresh is best' but tinned is a good second choice.

    Thank you so much Louise aka Please Do Not Feed The Animals. I try to be.

    Thanks Choclette.
    Well you can say laverbread is black like nori but on closer inspection I found it did have a green about it, thats why I thought i'd describe it as more jet green than black.

    I'm not confident about picking seaweed and would have to accompany someone like yourself to learn more. So I am curious about it all: the picking,washing and drying. I would love to have some of my own. This tinned version was just so expensive, making what is effectively free food rather expensive :(

    Thank you so so much for Sherry.

    Thanks Mark Willis.
    It certainly is and you are so right to point out oysters. My husband would add lobsters to the list too, there was a time when the British would just throw it back to the water.

    It made me chuckle recently when I read that bread and butter was being served at up-market restaraunts too.

  11. Never tried it but they look great Shaheen. I'm heading to Wales twice in the next couple of months. First time I've ever been.

    1. Hope you enjoy it Jac, what part of Wales are you going to?

  12. I've heard of laverbread, but I didn't know what it was! It looks great in these veggie burgers.

    1. Thanks Kate, it is an acquired taste and a little does go a long way.

  13. Well this is a very fitting post to be reading on St David's Day. I'd completely forgotten about these lovely laverbread cakes of yours and never did try my home picked seaweed version - it must be done!

    I think any seaweed is safe to eat, though because I don't trust the cleanliness of our waters, I only ever eat ours cooked.


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