variety of plants growing in the Adanian Sea, Flysh Seaweed is perhaps one of
the most widely used in cooking. The stalks are dark yellow and covered with a
clear sheath in the later stages of the plant's life that is often melted off
and used in sauces. This cover, when melted, is known as "Liquamen". Though
originally known to exist hundreds of years ago ever since divers have been
searching for riches around the Mithral Coast, the discovery of its good taste
and cooking use is credited to Hernand Flysh, and was this poor ship captain’s
inspiration to give up sailing for cooking.
Appearance. This plant is dark yellow in color, and grows in clumps of three or four strands each about a fore tall. Each strand is fairly thin once fully grown, but about two nailsbreadths across. In the first stages of growth the hair-like strands grow gradually thicker and wider as well as taller, and are very soft. At this time the surface is almost fuzzy in feel, and the strands flow freely with the sea current. About a third of the way through its life cycle (roughly two months), this seaweed releases a clear, reasonably sticky liquid that hardens very soon after contact with the water. The liquid always hardens evenly, and fits over the yellow weed like a sword sheath. At this point, the plant is fully grown and the now enclosed strands have become thinner because of the release of liquid. Unlike the earlier stages of its lifespan, the plant is rigid rather than drifting with the current, and rather difficult to remove from the surface it grows from without a knife of some kind. Only when fully grown like this is the plant harvested. The tangy, salty taste seems to develop with age and, of course, the clear cover can be melted off only once it has been released. The root system of the Flysh is interesting, consisting of light brown, thin tendrils that either extend straight into the sea floor, or wrap around the surface the plant is growing on until eventually, again, fastening to the ocean floor.
Territory. Flysh Seaweed is found only off the eastern coast of Santharia, and grows no farther north than the Isles of Ram, preferring temperate to warm waters. In the south, the plants are seen as far south as Ciosa, though never farther than the Scattersand Shoals. While the plant is occasionally found near the reefs and cliffs that form the Manthrian coastline, the plant is more commonly found farther out to sea, growing near the shores of the islands and mountains that characterize that eastern seaboard. This is perhaps explained by the fact that it seems to prefer growing off rock, with a much lower percentage found on sandy sea beds.
Usages. Hernand Flysh first discovered this seaweed just off Clendor Point about thirty years ago. Before this, the seaweed was known to exist, though its myriad of cooking uses had never been explored. Officially, Hernand is credited with its name and discovery. At the time he was still captain of his small ship, the Starmin, and was returning triumphantly to Marduran with his cargo from Ciosa, seaweed in tow. Now, Hernand was widely regarded to be a hopeless and inadequate captain. On this particular trip, he had purposefully taken rather roundabout routes, the most obvious of which being forcing the ship to travel all the way around by the cliffs of Hyndillan and the Nightfog Cliffs, because he “sensed a storm a comin'”. Tired and annoyed, his crew tossed him overboard near the islands running up to Clendor Point, and forced him to make his own way back home. Trapped about a stral from shore and tired, he was forced to look for food in the water when he came across the Flysh. Unsure of its taste, he took a bite and immediately took a liking to it. Unlike every other unsuccessful voyage he had been on, as he returned to Marduran this time, he decided to give up being a merchant and took up cooking full time. Luckily, his inadequacy as a seaman did not reflect his cooking skills, and he is famous for his magnificent seafood dishes. Hernand came up with the name "Liquamen" just around the time he began cooking with the seaweed around the house. One time, while making seaweed wraps for the sailors he realized he had put through much hardship, his daughter asked him what he was doing. While he explained that he was "stripping off the coating of the seaweed and liquidizing it to form a tasty addition to seamen's boring rations", she picked up a few syllables here and there, and, in childish fashion, chanted it back at him repeatedly. Hernand liked the sound of the new word she had created, “Liquamen” and adopted it as a name for his condiment.
To this day Hernand insists that his favourite ingredients to cook with are Flysh and the Liquamen. The stalk has the bite of sea salt, combined with a slightly sour taste. He commonly uses the melted off Liquamen in a thick sauce of ground seeds from the kell herb and crushed berries from the same. Liquamen is blander than the yellow stalk, and this mixture with the kell represents only a miniscule portion of the various cooking styles. Liquamen is very vacuous, and unless at a very high temperature, is said to move slower than the aglan slug on a sunny day. The now sheath-free strands are often ground and served as a condiment with fish dishes of all kinds. There are almost endless variations of uses for this condiment, and Avennorian cooks continuously invent new and interesting receipts to add this to. Described below is a receipt invented by Hernand himself. He personally nicknamed this raw fish wrap, "Bonebite" due to its powerful flavour. In particular, this makes use of both the Liquamen as well as the strands themselves. While this receipt is very simple, it highlights well the varied situations in which these sea plants can be used:
Ingredients. One Bonehead, Flysh Seaweed Strips, Seasoning to taste
Preparation. First, separate the clear
shaft from the Flysh and leave it heated and liquid. Lay out and dry the
remaining strands. Second, fillet the raw
bonehead into small pieces, each no
more than four or five
nailsbreadths in width and length. Now wrap the seaweed strands around
the bonehead pieces. At this point,
you should add any seasonings. Hernand recommends using almost only sea
ingredients, as he feels that pure ocean ingredients give the finished
product a more distinct taste. The only variation he makes is the use of
peppercorns, newly cracked so that they retain their full bite. Everything
from sea salt to fresh herbs may be added, and this part in particular
allows for much customization on the part of the chef. After seasoning the
Liquamen comes into play. Pour the liquid on top of the wraps, and make
sure they are fully coated. At this point they must be placed in a cool
area so that the coat can set. After a few hours, they can be removed.
Many times they are eaten cold, though they can be sampled at room
temperature as well. If you do wish to heat them, you must maximize the
temperature and only let them cook for a short period of time to preserve
Flysh Seaweed reproduction is rather remarkable to witness. Normally, the
seaweed has a lifespan of about half a year. On what is obviously the last day
of its life, the strands of seaweed begin to swell, and soon they burst,
releasing a cloud of yellow particles. These particles collide and stick
together in large globes of yellow, the number of which is usually equivalent to
the number of strands originally there. Each of these spheres is then carried
off by the current, and comes to rest in another part of the ocean. From here,
growth is not seen for months. Then, one day, small curls of yellow will begin
to appear from the surface, usually rock, that the ball of yellow landed on.
These are almost always accompanied by tendrils of roots, which slowly creep
along the rock before fastening on the sea floor.
Myth/Lore. Flysh Seaweed is regarded as a good-luck charm for many cooks throughout coastal Sarvonia. Often, they rub a particularly meaty or tough fish with the ground seaweed before cooking, which seems to soften and tenderize it. Other times they will allow vegetables out of season to steep in the liquid for a few hours, which is said to greatly enhance their taste. Whether this is actually true or only wishful thinking, many cooks dare not begin a receipt without a small vial of this all-purpose tool on a chain around their neck.