Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Seaweed Butter

While I do love to cook with butter, I'm not that big on eating it straight. There's been one exception to this - truffle butter but now I've found another and if you've been to the new Maze restaurant in Melbourne, you'll now exactly what it is.

Yes, I'm taking Seaweed Butter.

During our first visit to Maze we were offered a tour of the premises and the kitchen - which is something they offered to all first-timers. We were taken into the kitchen and met the chef Josh Emmett, who turned out to be a very friendly guy as well as a fantastic cook. It's here that we got to ask about the butter and he very kindly showed us what it was made with. Armed with that information, it was then just a matter of finding the right seaweed product.

In a way I've hesitated in making it since it's just so good I fear becoming a butter addict but eventually I got around to visiting my local Japanese Store and very quickly found what I needed in this jar of Shimanoka Iwa Nori.

laver© by Haalo

Ira Nori is also known as Rock Laver as it grows in rock crevices by the sea.

laver© by Haalo

As you can see it's a thickish, dark paste and has an unusual aroma, at times it smells almost like treacle but then it has an earthiness like Jerusalem artichokes.

To make the actually seaweed butter just involved a tiny bit of experimentation and I think I've actually come up with something that is pretty close to the original.

seaweed butter© by Haalo

Seaweed Butter

150 grams unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon Shimanoka Iwa Nori

The seaweed is high in glutamic acid which is responsible for that flavour characteristic called umami. That savouriness can be misinterpreted as saltiness which can lead to some people calling a dish too salty when in fact it is really umami that is being detected. This is reason I've used unsalted butter.

Whip the butter vigorously until light and creamy. Add in the Iwa Nori and continue to beat gently until incorporated.

Portion the butter into butter dishes or store as butter logs following a same method as for this truffle butter.


  1. wow I can always depend on you to showcase something I never would have dreamt of - I am curious to know how you eat it - on bread or steaming vegetables???

  2. The seaweed butter at Maze was so good, especially with that warm bread :) Thanks so much for getting the recipe - I'm definitely going to recreate it now!

  3. AnonymousMay 21, 2010

    Looks delicious! I love trying to replicate at home something you've discovered at a restaurant...

    Also, I'm not sure what it says on the English label, but from my limited Japanese (and what's in focus) I read some form of tamarind (I guess tamarind paste) and caramel colouring... The good news is it does state the nori and water as the first ingredients!

  4. AnonymousMay 25, 2010

    Gosh I love that butter so much. I thought the saltiness came from mushroom, like truffle butter lol.

  5. wow, the butter is amazing, where can you buy it from?

  6. Hi, very interested in this. So is the product you found is the same as that shown to you by the chef/he told you they used Ira Nori paste?

  7. Thanks Johanna - on bread, especially warm bread, it is divine

    Thanks Food - can't say that this is the Maze recipe, this is what I think it is

    Thanks Rowan - there is an english translation of the ingredient list it didn't mention tamarind

    It's almost on par with truffle butter Lingy

    Hi Alex - I bought the seaweed paste at Fuji Mart near Prahran Market

    Hi Philip - I can't say that it is the exact product they use but the butter I made tasted pretty similar.

  8. I went to Maze by chance while in Melbourne and was so taken in by the seaweed butter that I actually finished the bread with my friend. Then I decided to search for the recipe and stumbled upon your site. Thanks!

  9. Thanks Michelle - hope you get to make some!


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