Of the many Slow Coast “concept restaurants” that have emerged in recent years, the expectations were perhaps lowest for Skillinge’s Ålgräsäng (literally “Eelgrass Meadow”); the “one superstar ingredient” concept felt like it had been played out years before, and besides, how much could one actually do with seaweed, anyway?
Ålgräsäng defied the doubters, thanks to the unique properties of eelgrass, which is descended from a land-based ancestor and, like many land-based grasses, produces seeds that are basically edible grains. Thanks to thousands of years of culinary technique, grains are incredibly versatile, and Ålgräsäng puts eelgrass grain to every possible use: one can make flour, ferment it into alcohol, mill it to make oil, or cook it like rice.
As a result, Ålgräsäng’s menu features dishes that don’t seem at all seaweedy, whether its their crusty breakfast bread or their popular pasta dishes. The chef’s feature-piece is their famous sushi selection, accompanied by a mildly sweet eelgrass sake. (If you order a “rice” dish, we recommend choosing the unhusked option; the husk gives a hint of sea-salt savour to the meal!)
Never ones to let a potential health fad pass them by, hip young Swedes now sing the praises of the eelgrass grain, which is gluten-free, rich in vitamins, fibers and omega-3 fats, and contains 50% more protein than rice. Unfortunately—or fortunately, depending on how you look at it—eelgrass turns out to be pretty hard to produce at commercially viable scales. The grains have been eaten for generations by the Seri peoples of Mexico, but the first attempts at commercial cultivation came in the 2020s, thanks to a Spanish chef who fell hard for Seri cuisine. Several small-scale farms exist today, but it turns out that getting the water quality and nurturing processes just right in artificial conditions is particularly difficult.
Lucky, then, that those conditions prevail off the shore at Ystad. Ålgräsäng is run by the same former diving collective that runs the popular eelgrass safari, and the restaurant’s profits are ploughed back in to the unending work of restoring and maintaining this vital ecosystemic actor. As such, it comes recommended to those who like to eat ethically… but it also comes recommended to those who just like to eat.