Laverbread: Historic Welsh Seaweed Bread is Gwych!

Welsh seaweed Laverbread with toast on a plate
It’s like lava! But green.

Wales, for our North American readers, is that bit to the left of England. It’s a countryside heavy region of the UK and a nice place to go camping.

It also features the fishing village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. So, why not pay it a visit? Whilst there you can get some laverbread! It’s gwych (great)!

What’s Laverbread?

It’s a foodstuff made from laver, which is edible seaweed. It’s a traditional cuisine of Wales and doesn’t appear much in England, although it’s also popular in Ireland.

Laverbread has a long history in Wales, which we’ll get to in a bit, but first a note on how it’s prepared.

The sheets of seaweed (called thalli) are repeatedly washed and boiled. This makes it soft until the point it’s almost a purée, at which point it’s officially laverbread! And no longer seaweed.

It’s kind of a jelly at that point, but it’s often rolled into a type of oatmeal and then fried.

The Welsh will often fry bacon with it or cockles as part of a Welsh breakfast, which differs a little from a Full English breakfast. For example, along with seaweed in Wales they often throw scotch eggs in with the rest.

Knowing the English as well as we do, your average one of us would have a mental breakdown at the thought of seaweed with your full English.

You just don’t even go there, sister!

However, it’s still popular in Wales to this day. Some locals get rather poetic about the whole process.

So, yes, laverbread also goes by the name of bara lafwr or bara lawr in the traditional Welsh language.

About 29% of the Welsh population can speak the official language based on 2021 stats.

What’s the History of Laverbread?

In Wales, the dish has been around since the 17th century (at the very least).

Much of the Welsh coast is coastline and so there’s an abundance of seaweed about the place. Other countries with this lifestyle option, such as Japan, turn the seawood into nori for sushi dishes.

In Wales, it’s laverbread! And this dish likely came about as a simple survival dish. The first written record of the recipe is from 1607 in Camden’s Britannica.

This work includes a description of a springtime gathering on a Welsh beach in Eglwys Abernon in the North West of Wales.

By the 18th century, lawr was popular amongst miners of the era as it seaweed was readily available and dirt cheap. Recipes from into the 19th century talk of mutton served with hot laver sauce.

Since the mining era has now dwindled, the dish is nowhere near as popular (and essential) as it once was.

But many restaurants are still adding a modern spin on the dish to serve to customers.

How to Make Laverbread

If you live near plenty of seaweed, you may well want to get out there and procure yourself some in the name of fine dining.

For basic ingredients, you’ll need the following:

6 litres of laver seaweed
150 millilitres of apple cider vinegar
Salt, pepper, chilli powder, or soy sauce

You can fry that lot up together and slop it onto whatever plate or bap you fancy, really! Sure, it looks like slop. But then healthy things have a habit of looking less tasty than cakes, eh:

To note as well, laverbread is very healthy! It’s packed full of protein, iron, and iodine and packs plenty of useful B vitamins.

42 comments

  1. If Great Britain hadn’t tried to starve the Welsh ( I heard all about it ) they wouldn’t have had to eat sea weed. Plus the potato famine is not a popular subject over there I’m thinking. We have cazillion Irish here on account of that incident. I suspect that’s why I’m here.

    Liked by 2 people

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