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Jun 8, 2007 09:09 PM

Spirulina - scrumptious or pond scum?

So there's an article about spirulina, a blue-green algae, and healthy-eating in Chow

What does it taste like and how do you use it?

The article linked to by Salon writer Ann Bauer seems to drift both ways as to the taste. In one sentence she gushes about it yet in other sections ... not so much.

Smoothies and as a popcorn topper seem to be the most popular uses.

Could you mix it in yogurt or oatmeal? How about in scrambled eggs for ... you know. Maybe added to bread recipes for St. Patrick's day? Is there anyway ot incorporate it into a recipe without having to meditate and chant 'om'.

Spirulina Balls based on Chakra bars

It seems that the Alain Ducasse Foundation has created a menu for astronauts to eat en route to Mars that includes spirulina gnocchis ... there's a photo ... the Martian bread with green tomato jam is quite impressive too.

Actually I skimmed a few recipes from the web and put them on home cooking. So actual recipes rather than hints would be better added in this link.

The above recipe link has info on how to grow your own artisan spirulina which says ...

"Those persons who cannot stand the taste and odour of spirulina most probably were once exposed to a low quality product. Good quality fresh spirulina is so bland it can replace butter on toasts and can enrich almost any dish"

So, I guess that is another question since it is unlikely I will grow my own ... what's the best brand of spirulina?

I mean if this stuff tastes good it could be the new marketing darling .... with companies throwing it in everthing to hawk their products. I mean, if Alain Ducasse can get on board, so to speak, this could rocket to popularity.

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  1. there are companies direct marketing this in multi-level marketing. At my high school reunion, one of my old gal pals is doing in on Cape Cod. Don't know the brand.

    googled and found this debunking BGA:

    1. Spirulina aka Tecuitatl was also commonly used in Pre-Hispanic Anahuac valley... there is still some small scale harvesting among natives of Nahuatl towns around Lake Texcoco. I've had it as a soup base (somewhat similar to Miso but with chayote, calabacita & green chiles), floating in Mole Verde, & in licuados with pineapple juice & raw nopales... or with carrots, beets & orange.

      Is it chowish.... the best analogy is the Japanese use of seaweed.

      9 Replies
      1. re: Eat_Nopal

        Thanks for mentioning that Pre-Hispanic connection. I saw brief mentions of that when googling.

        Would you be good enough ot maybe put some instructions for using it as a soup base on the recipe link?

        The chayote vine is threatening to invade again so I'll probably have a lot of those. And I've been curious about spirulina so this sounds like something I'd try. I'm still hoping somoene has tips for the best brand if there is such a thing.

        Doesn't it make you wonder what it was that drove that first Pre-Historic person to taste pond scum?

        1. re: rworange

          The only thing I know about Spirulina is that you want to be sure of the safety of the source. I remember reading an article about the same communities around Texcoco complaining that black water pollution was causing a health hazard among peoples that still depended on ancient traditions like harvesting Spirulina, Insect Larvae & other aquatic products from the lake, and they were demanding help in building adjacent ponds that could be managed better.

          As to why would they try it.... Intuitive Consumption is a growing school of thought in the Nutritional Sciences.... people might have a biological drive to consume foods that complement their dietary requirements.

          1. re: rworange

            In searching for a soup recipe for you.... I found this PDF which has contact info for the Canadian & U.S. based Mexican restaurateurs involved in an outreach program sponsored by the Mexican government where they had many of Mexico's top culinary stars giving workshops & lectures on Mexican cuisine particularly on the anthropological front. Fascinating.

            One of the Bay Area attendees was Silvia Rallo de Martinez of Colibri Mexican Bistro.... ever heard of it? It occurs to me that people involved in this program would translate into more interesting & insightful dining experiences. Certainly the L.A. participants including Guelegetza & Frida seem to confirm the case... but I haven't heard anyone mention this place?


            1. re: Eat_Nopal

              Thanks. Don't read Spanish that well. Colibri has mixed reviews ... high prices, small portions.

              The menu says Central Mexican cuisine.

              If you ever make it there (in the theatre district) I'd be interested in your thoughts about the food on the SF board. But looking at the menu it seems mainly the familiar ... wouldn't be a Mexican restaurant without guacamole and chips, eh?

              1. re: rworange

                Yeah it has some "safe" usual suspects... but on paper at least the dinner menu seems to have some grown up dishes that are very common in Central Mexico:

                Veracruz Style Ceviche
                Tilapia Al Pastor Tacos
                Jicama, Avocado, Citrus Salad (how often do we get real Mexican salads?)
                Green Pozole
                Pasilla (not Tomatoe) based Tortilla Soup
                Duck in Green Pipian
                Lamb Shank Mixiote
                Shrimp in Tamarind Mole
                Catch of the Day with Salsa Verde, Chorizo & Huitlacoche
                Grilled Cactus
                Oaxacan Style Vegetable Soup
                Mushrooms with Garlic & Arbol Chile

                Those items if prepared well (big if) are pretty much what I would order at a place like Los Danzantes in Coyoacan.

                1. re: rworange

                  OMG.... and stuffed cauliflower... that is Mercado de la Merced food right there... I haven't had that dish in 15+ years! Now I am craving it!

                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                    Well, I'd put in one of my rare appearances at a chowdown if you were ever inspired to organize one at Colibri on the SF board. Part of the problem with Colibri is people are measuring it against the tried and true local Mexican food and not knowing enough about the regional cuisine. Would also be interesting if you got to chat with the chef.

                    Maybe we could get him to make something with spirulina.

                    1. re: rworange

                      I am encouraged by susaninsf's review... maybe I will give it a try in the next month... and if execution is good... I would be happy to start a chowdown!

            2. re: Eat_Nopal

              I cannot believe I missed this thread - Iin a Mesoamerican class I had today -there was an entire Ppoint slide devoted to Spirulina - I had no Idea. I am trying to imagine the cakes - as described by Bernal Diaz. Similar consistency to tofu? Does it taste like nori or wakame EN?

            3. Picture from Codex on Wikipedia