Poor Rufus nearly choked when I told him that the ‘secret’ ingredient in the mash was seaweed.
Dillisk (or dulse) is a purple/reddish seaweed found on the shores of the North Atlantic (or, for those further inland, in health food shops, packaged here in Ireland by Carraig Fhada Seaweed, among others). It boasts very high levels of iron and protein and has a wonderfully savoury, spicy flavour.
Now, I will freely admit that, for years, my knowledge of edible Irish seaweed more or less began and ended with carrageen moss. That changed with Prannie Rhatigan and her superbly informative Irish Seaweed Kitchen, which opens wide a door into the edible treasury of the Irish seashore.
Not only did I become acquainted with dillisk, so eminently edible all by itself, but I discovered a new partner for potatoes. As quoted in Prannie’s book: “Just throw dillisk in with spuds and you can’t go wrong.” Very sound advice, as it turns out, very sound indeed.
Potato Gratin With Dillisk
As Prannie Rhatigan notes in Irish Seaweed Kitchen, the possibilities for combining potatoes and dillisk are practically endless. Soften some dillisk in a little water, then chop and add to mash or potato salad or any number of other potato dishes. Here, I’ve added it to a garlicky potato gratin.
The recipe is a slight adaptation of Richard Olney’s Potato Daube from his classic book, Simple French Food, and simple this undoubtedly is. Sliced potatoes, seasoned here with dillisk, moistened with salted garlicky water and a drizzling of olive oil, and then baked.
It’s entirely satisfying on its own, though it would reside happily beside a nice piece of fish too. I quite fancy having it with some tuna steak, myself.
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
- 500ml water
- 1 tsp salt
- approx 4 tblsp olive oil
- 1kg potatoes, preferably waxy, thinly sliced (peeled or unpeeled as you prefer) and patted dry
- small handful of dillisk (about 8g), finely chopped
You’ll also need:
- An ovenproof dish – mine was about 30cm x 22cm and 5cm deep.
- Preheat your oven to 200C
- Add the garlic, water and salt to a small saucepan. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently for about 15 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, scoop out the garlic pieces and rub them through a sieve back into the cooking liquid.
- Rub the base of your ovenproof dish with 1 tblsp of the olive oil. Layer about one third of the sliced potatoes into the dish, sprinkle with half of the chopped dillisk, repeat with another layer of potatoes and dillisk and finish with the remaining potato slices.
- Pour the garlic water over the potatoes (it should just about cover them) and drizzle over the remaining olive oil
- Bake for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until nicely browned on top and the potatoes are tender right through. Enjoy on its own or perhaps along with a nice piece of fish – I quite fancy having it with some tuna steak myself.
- To revert to Richard Olney’s original recipe, put 3-4 bay leaves in the middle of the potato layers instead of the dillisk .
- Around 4-6 servings of gratin (depending on how much, or how little, you are serving with it).