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24 September 2014

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Spotlight presenters in a lather over laver
Justin and Teresa with Spotlight viewer and "seaweed masterchef" Gillian Fielder
Gillian Fielder has the Spotlight team eating out of the palm of her hand - not literally!
When Spotlight presenters Teresa Driscoll and Justin Leigh turned their noses up at the thought of eating seaweed, the emails came flooding in. How could they dismiss such a tasty local dish? They just couldn't have cooked it properly....
Watch Gillian teach Teresa and Justin how to make a tasty treat.
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Norman Tucker is the only person in the south west to make a living out of collecting seaweed.

He can pick around 80 to 100 pounds in a morning.

When picked from the rocks at low tide, laver seaweed is almost purple in colour. When cooked, it is dark green.
The Spotlight presenters would like to hear from you if you have other traditional West Country recipes that they could try. Why not email us at
and we could be featuring your tasty offerings on a future edition of Spotlight and here on BBC Devon online.
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Walk along most beaches in the south west and you're bound to come across some seaweed. But would you think of eating it?

Well, for some of the communities that live along the North Devon and North Cornwall coasts it remains a popular dish.

Norman Tucker
When autumn's here Norman Tucker is off picking seaweed
When autumn begins, Norman Tucker knows it is time to start picking seaweed again. One day he's at Westward Ho! The next, it may be Bude or Perranporth.

"That's the way I pick it." He says, "Keep walking all the time. Thus leaving sufficient on the stones for the seaweed to grow again."

The seaweed is known locally as laver.

Traditionally it has formed a regular part of the diet of those living on the north coast. There are no rules about how to eat laver or what to eat it with. "Make sure you give it a good washing to get the sand out of it." Norman warns.

on sale in a north Devon butcher shop
Laver - on sale in a North Devon butcher shop
After it has been washed thoroughly the seaweed is put in a pot to simmer without water for around ten hours. Then it will be minced and packaged.

When Teresa and Justin tried the laver live on air, they really didn't like it. "It tasted like sludge from a beach, with a revolting texture." Says Justin.

Their comments caused several people to email saying they had done it all wrong!

What's cooking?

One viewer, Gillian Fielder, even offered to come in and prepare it properly. Here's her recipe:

Serves 4-6
Laverbread - 450g (1 lb)
Fine oatmeal - 110g (4 oz)
Back smoked bacon - 6 rashers
Salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste

Bacon, flour and oatmeal
It's so easy, anyone can do it
1. Mix laver in a bowl with salt and pepper and lemon juice to taste (about 2 teaspoons as a rough guide).

2. Flour your hands.

3. Shape the laver into individual cakes about 10cm diameter and coat in medium oatmeal.

4. Meanwhile, cook some streaky bacon until crispy. Keep warm.

Sizzling in the pan
Six to eight minutes is all it takes
5. Fry the laver cakes in the bacon fat for 6-8 minutes. Serve with the cooked bacon and some bread.

The difference was amazing. Teresa thought it was a completely different taste. "You'd never believe it was the same laver." She said. "It's delicious."

Now the Spotlight team would like to hear from you if you have other traditional West Country recipes that they could try. Why not email us at and we could be featuring your tasty offerings on a future edition of Spotlight and here on BBC Devon online.
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