Coastal Chef is an interesting look into an ingredient that is culturally intertwined with many cuisines. Many people are likely to have tried it in sushi, but seaweed and algae can be used in so many different types of meals. It provides information about many authors and locations dedicated to showcasing such a diverse ingredient.
My first thought of the book is that it's really eye catching. There are beautiful photographs of scenery and recipes, showcasing the wonder of seaweed and algae. There are a wide range of colours and textures, with well-plated food. It is sure to inspire many a cook to give a recipe or two a try. The first thing the book does is take a short look at the history of the product and takes us through some of the health benefits. It also provides little explanations about several types and the locations where you might find them.
After we move on from the chefs and other introductions, we take a look at the recipes. In order, we can see seaweed and algaes featured in cocktails, accompaniments/ canapés, entrees, mains, and desserts. In addition to the range of meals you can feature it in, there are a variety of types of cuisine. Even if you chose not to use seaweed and algae in the recipes (either by choice or lack of product), you could still likely make the recipes using the ingredients you have available or try your own variants.
The only real problem about the cosmetic portion of the book is that the title font is a bit difficult to read in some instances, in my opinion. It's featured on most pages and isn't always legible. For example, the Accompaniments / canapés page- it takes a few moments to determine what it says and the same for some other instances as well. You might not be able to get some of the other ingredients, for example: pink Murray River salt, Thai basil, Vietnamese mint. Those, and several others, seem a bit obscure for me to obtain myself. Though, I'm sure you might be able to use other varieties depending on your need and the availability.
The seaweed and algae might also be difficult to obtain, depending on where you live and the complexity of shops in your area. I imagine that speciality shops might indeed have such ingredients available, or per request. So you could always try asking shop keepers if they could perhaps obtain some for you. Many of the recipes have the type specified, though I imagine there is some cost in trying to obtain it whichever you need. In addition, you might not be able to get it in the right form for each recipe, nor the right type of seaweed. Some recipes use whole seaweed, whilst others specify that they use specific powder or extract. Having said that, it might be possible to make our own powder or extract. If you dried certain types of seaweed and used a spice grinder to turn it to powder, it might be similar to the texture necessary. I've seen online guides on how to make ingredients into extracts before, for example something like vanilla. It might be possible to do the same for seaweed yourself.
I like a lot about the book and it's a very captivating introduction to a product I've never really tried before. I think these recipes are all very encouraging and I certainly will give some of these recipes a try in future. Though some feature products I don't necessarily like (fish, for example, but others might have different requirements), one can simply swap it for something they might agree with. The only major downside is that seaweed and algae isn't more widely available. However, I will be keeping my eyes out in future.
I won a copy of this book via a First Reads giveaway and these are just my honest thoughts on it.