10 Questions with Tony Coulson of Ebb Tides Seaweed by Lauren Heath


Ebb Tides is a fledgling in the food world; having been established only in May last year, we came across them at their first ‘outing’ at Dartington Food Fair (which can be found here) and wished them luck on their future journey. My husband, Steve, loves seaweed and really enjoyed the flavours and easy use packaging of their products. They had tasters on the table, as well as seaweed mixed into a variety of homemade dips, to show you what you could do with them.

Later on in the year, we met again at Dorset Chilli Festival, and saw that there was great interest being shown by potential punters. Since then, I have seen them increase their awareness on social media, as well as having some great exposure in print and other online sources. In fact, Tony has been so busy that, it has taken a while to get the answers to this Q&A – but that’s never a problem to us, business first! We’re pleased to give exposure to his Devon business and now it’s January and most people are on a health kick, seaweed could be the perfect ingredient to liven up your diet in flavour and health benefits – but remember, it can be used all year round with any foods, the only limit is your culinary imagination.

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In a nutshell, what is your background? My original background was working as a psychotherapist in Nottinghamshire, my county of birth. I fell in love with fly fishing and decided to follow  my passion moving to Scotland to study Aquaculture and Fisheries. After I qualified I stayed in Scotland working on Salmon Conservation Trusts, Salmon Farms, Trout Farms, Shellfish Fisheries and my own Fly Fishery near Edinburgh.

When did Ebb Tides all start?  Ebb Tides began trading May 2016. Prior to that I spent a year in research around the coast lines and  assessing the species and biomass of seaweeds locally. Along with working alongside Natural England, The Crown Estate, Environmental Health and Trading Standards. Prior to the research stage I was working for the Environment Agency  which was robbing me of my soul and personality so I handed my notice in and left .

Where are you based? Sidmouth East Devon.

Why seaweed? Why indeed, this is a question I have been asked many times. Intellectually it’s difficult for me to articulate this question. When living in Scotland I first began including seaweeds into my diet and from the beginning my body was immediately nourished along with a sense of wellbeing.  I could say it’s the healthiest plant on the planet, or there is the same area of seaweeds around the UK as there is forestry inland why not utilise this incredible natural resource. However it’s more intuitive than left side brain, Ebb Tides seems to be leading me and I just help facilitate the dynamic of the company. Not what business consultants want to hear but there you go.

I’m sure there are secrets but what can you tell us about the process from shore to grinder? Hardly any secrets I cut no more than half of any seaweed with a pair of scissors and rotate the harvesting sites for sustainability reasons. I then dry the seaweed in dehydrators and pack into resealable pouches or flake mix and pack into the grinders. The seaweeds are the stars so I add nothing I let them shine. I worked with the award winning chef Noel Corston who is head chef and owner of EX34 in Woolacombe, who helped put the seaweed mixes together.

Can you describe the 3 flavours; which one is your favourite? Sea Salad is a mix of three seaweeds and has recently won a Silver Award with Food and Drink Devon. Delicate green flavours with a touch of pepper and marine notes – people often say shellfish after tasting; great with fish.

Dulse this is my favourite I just love the colour, texture and smoky depth of dulse. Rich and spicy with a taste of paprika. Vegetarians use it as a bacon substitute and for carnivores fabulous with meats especially burgers and great for baking. Dulse is such a star that it’s not mixed with other species as it shines alone. Dulse is high in protein most mornings I start the day with a dulse, banana and yoghurt smoothie.

Kelp gives that savoury umami flavour, earthy and versatile.The backbone of Japanese cooking is dashi the basic stock for most meals simply kelp and fish flakes. Good in casserole’s, curry’s and beans – I just love kelp on egg and beans on toast.

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Some people are scared of using seaweed, how would you convince them? I don’t, I just say ‘no one’s died yet’.  I am not on a mission to convert the world towards seaweeds I just want to be with the waves, produce great products, earn a living, and enjoy life. Maybe perhaps make a very small difference in the wellbeing of people with Ebb Tides.

What’s the best way to use it to introduce people to trying it? EbbTides has the uniqueness of grinders we are making seaweeds consumer friendly. Grinders or grinder can be placed on the table (throw the salt seaweeds have natural forming salts) and grind onto ones meal. Unless I am making a specific seaweed recipe the seaweeds are more of an afterthought. An example recently I was making a barley pottage while soaking the barley it came into my mind that kelp could work with it. Grinded in the kelp with the barley and wow it worked and incredibly nourishing.

We have recently launched a new product called Ocean Spice based on a Moroccan spice blend but with the added ingredient of dulse which gives Ocean Spice a deep smokey spicy flavour. This is a great way to introduce people to the world of seaweeds they simply add oil to the blend and marinate on meats, poultry, fish or vegetables giving not just a spicy depth to ones meals but also the goodness of seaweed.

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Where can people buy your products? Online @ ebbtides.co.uk, Dartington Food Shop, Darts Farm, Ammonite Lyme Regis, The Deli at Dartmouth and Food Shows throughout Devon.

What are the benefits of seaweed? The benefits are numerous and I could go on and on but you may get bored. Constantly at Food Fairs I hear “seaweeds they are good for you but what can I do with them”. So that’s were my work comes in helping people become aware of the countless possibilities of cooking with seaweeds. I have been pleasantly surprised how open people are to try seaweeds. People do seem to want to experiment and experience on a culinary level so much more than even a few years back which I think is smashing. Often they are surprised by the flavours once they get past the perception they may have around seaweeds. They taste good and are full of goodness so that’s a win win . There are numerous health benefits attached to seaweeds below is copy of the poster that’s on the table at food shows that helps explain the benefits.However I do tend to focus more on the taste. A product may have numerous health benefits but people also want the flavour to go with the benefits or it’s a none starter. I say to people “have a play and let me know what you create for I am genuinely interested”.

7 Reasons to Eat Seaweeds

Adding seaweeds to your diet  gives taste and texture to your foods andbenefits your health. They have been described as the most nutritious form of vegetation on the planet.

  • Highly versatile for culinary use. Easy to eat and cook with and low in calories
  • Adds texture and fibre to your diet and draws flavours from other foods
  • Improves flavour profile by giving a more rounded or complete flavour sensation to your food
  • Use as a seasoning and salt replacement
  • Umami translated from Japanese means delicious or pleasant savoury taste. The 5th of the five basic tastes alongside sweet,sour,bitter and salty. Found in foods such as strong cheese, shellfish, tomatoes and soy .Seaweeds are high in umami.
  • 10 to 20 times the mineral content of other plants. No other group of plant contains more minerals and nutrients than seaweed. Seaweeds contain all 56 minerals and trace elements required for your body.
  • Detoxification boost helps skin cells rid themselves of toxins that prevent cells working as they should.
  • Weight control:
  1. Brown seaweeds contain Alginate that reduces fat digestion by the body
  2. Iodine in seaweeds helps maintain a healthy metabolism
  3. Seaweeds rehydrate the stomach making you feel full and less likely to snack

You can find out more and buy online on their website or find them and give them a follow on Facebook.

*All images copyright of Ebb Tides Seaweed

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Author: laurenheathpa

PA & Office Manager, Exeter PA Network member. Co-Editor & Food Writer for Eating Exeter, occasional Restaurant Reviewer for Crumbs Magazine Devon, major all round foodie. All my photography using the latest Samsung smartphone. Hospitality background, wife to The Lost Chef and mum to 1.

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