Eating sea anemones doesn’t sound that appealing, but the Snakelocks species (Anemonia sulcata) is regularly cooked and consumed in Spain near the Gulf of Cadiz. (Ortiguillas are marinated and deep-fried anemone.) Unfortunately, too many have been taken from the sea to be used as human food, so the Snakelocks species is in decline. Not only does removing the anemones threaten their existence, the trawling method employed to do so can cause a great deal of damage to marine ecosystems.
Fortunately, researchers at the University of Granada have just achieved success in growing them in captive environments, with the idea they can be farmed for commercial purposes. If this notion comes to practical fruition, the farmed anemone could be used in restaurants, so the wild ones could remain in their natural habitats and rebound to previous sustainable levels. Waste material produced in aquaculture can also be used as fertilizer in hydroponic agriculture, so there might be some potential for hybrid systems.
Anemones deep-fried in olive oil may not be the healthiest food – but not because of the anemones. They are high in protein, calcium, magnesium and essential fatty acids, but low in fat. A healthier way of cooking them would probably be steaming, because cooking oils may be far less healthy than is currently and commonly believed.
iMare Natural S.L., is the University of Granada business venture focused on growing Snakelocks species in captivity for the restaurant trade. A different company is already selling pre-cooked anemones.
Sea anemones have also been used in appetizers, such as the anemone and avocado goblet recipe.