Postelsia palmaeformis – commonly known as “sea palm,” is an edible brown seaweed found on rocky shores with constant waves. It certainly resembles a tiny palm tree, and the resiliency of its cylindrical stipe and small holdfast are remarkable, enabling it to hold on to those rocks through wave after wave.
In order to harvest sea palm in California, you must have a commercial seaweed harvesting license. Sea palm is regulated like no other seaweed in California, because it is site-specific to the West coast and in earlier (less enlightened) times, people cut the entire stipe, making it impossible to reproduce or provide critical habitat for small ocean critters who live in the sheltered spaces at the base of the sea palm holdfasts.
Ocean Harvest Sea Vegetables only trims the sea palm frond tips, leaving 2-3 inches of frond attached to the stipe. This way, the sea palm still flows with the waves and provides habitat, and ensuring reproductive spores from the frond tips are left intact to complete the reproductive cycle.
Most seaweeds are “annual” species, which means they die back in the fall and winter, most times washing away in the storms. We harvest sea palm during two time periods. The first is early in the spring/summer (April-May) while it is still in its juvenile stage. We call this our “Silky Sea Palm” because it feels silky in your hands whenever you touch it. The second harvesting of sea palm takes place in June and early July, before the plant becomes so big, we call it “old growth”. If the plant is too big, the frond tips become very tough and leathery and are not tasty.
What a gloriously unique and delicious seaweed we have growing on the North Coast of California!
Sea palm is easy to eat! You can snack on it right out of the bag, like an “ocean pretzel” or chip. Since silky sea palm is smaller than the full-grown sea palm, the fronds are more tender, and versatile. You can crinkle the fronds over salads and soups, cook in casserole dishes, rice and quinoa, or add sea palm to anything for a great taste adventure.
SPICY SEA PALM SALAD (serves 6-8)
- 1/2 to 1 oz Sea Palm (crumbled)
- 8 oz spaghetti or soba noodles (broken in half)
- 2-3 Tblsp. hot pepper sesame oil
- 2-3 Tblsp. sesame oil or olive oil
- 2-3 Tblsp. shoyu or tamari sauce
- 1-2 Tblsp. maple syrup or natural sweetener
- 2-3 Tblsp. vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 Tblsp. ginger (grated)
- 1/2 cup cilantro (chopped) – optional
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds – optional
Cook spaghetti/soba noodles according to directions. Add Sea Palm during the last 5 minutes of cooking (crumbled sea palm will expand, so smaller pieces are better).
While the noodles are cooking, mix all liquid ingredients, garlic and ginger in a large bowl. Drain and rinse noodles and sea palm. Add to large bowl. Mix well. You may add or delete liquid or spices as needed. Just before serving, add cilantro and soy nuts. Enjoy hot or cold!!