Researchers from Oregon State University (OSU) have recently patented a strain of red marine algae; it’s called dulse. It grows very quickly and is jam packed full of protein, but that’s not even close to the most exciting part about it. This seaweed, when cooked, tastes like bacon! Vegans rejoice! Meat-eaters should be happy about this as well, as it is a much healthier alternative to that beloved taste. Some scientists are even going as far as to call it “God’s Vegetable.”
This seaweed grows in the wild along the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines. In dried form it is sold for around $90 a pound. Traditionally it is sold as a nutritional supplement (as it is a great source of iodine) or a cooking ingredient. Researcher, Chris Langdon and his colleagues at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center have now created a new strain of dulse, that they have been growing for the past 15 years.
What Did The Researchers Have To Say?
“The original goal was to create a super-food for abalone, because high-quality abalone is treasured, especially in Asia,” Langdon pointed out. “We were able to grow dulse-fed abalone at rates that exceeded those previously reported in the literature. There always has been an interest in growing dulse for human consumption, but we originally focused on using dulse as a food for abalone.”
In case you were wondering, like I was, abalone is according to Wikipedia: “a common name for any of a group of small to very large edible sea snails, marine gastropod molluscs in the family Haliotidae.”
“It’s got all the bells and whistles,” says Chuck Toombs, a professor in OSU’s business school. “It’s a sustainable product. We even got a call from the Department of Energy…: It’s a carbon sink. It eats carbon, and produces protein. It’s like God’s vegetable.”
Toombs learned about the seaweed in the school’s Hatfield Marine Science Center and realized it had potential to go to market. “I didn’t know much about seaweed at all,” he says. “But what struck my eye is how prolific it is—it grows so fast—and the protein content. Then when I learned another dulse product was selling at Whole Foods for $60 a pound, that piqued my economic interest.”
Dulse does grow in the ocean, which is right now the major cost for growing it, but it is relatively easy to reproduce artificially. This means, you can grow it on land. This could cut down costs tremendously and give you the ability to customize the flavor, and ensure the product is not being contaminated with heavy metals and other toxic substances.
Is Dulse A Superfood?
Many are calling dulse a superfood because it has twice the nutritional value of kale and it is loaded with vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, magnesium, protein and as mentioned before, iodine. Iodine is something many people are deficient in and don’t even realize it.
Restaurant Already Testing The Bacon-y Sea Vegetable
Winner of Iron Chef and owner of several restaurants, Vitaly Paley has been using dulse for over a year at his Portland restaurant, Imperial. Chef Paley has been able to incorporate the dulse in a number of dishes, when supply allows and has been getting a lot of positive feedback. He serves it fairly gourmet style, yellow crudo on a bed of dulse and hamachi on ice with dulse, sea urchin vinaigrette and shad bottarga and even just straight up deep-fried.
“We serve it with a little dipping sauce, almost like a spicy aioli deal, and people just dip into it and eat it. It crunches up in your mouth and disappears almost like a hot candy would. It’s not every day that a chef gets to work with a new ingredient like that.”
“I’ve had nothing but a really positive response,” says Paley. “There was this group of young ladies that came in and I served them a little basket of fried dulse with the dipping sauce and they liked it so much they ordered it a second time.”
The Implications Here Are Tremendous
Do you realize what this means? All the glory of bacon without the slaughter, guilt, or environmental degradation. Of course there are people who would probably read this and think that this whole idea is disgusting, but I say, don’t knock it ‘till you try it! Imagine, a DLT instead of the traditional BLT, dulse, lettuce and tomato! I bet that would be equally as delicious. Mmm… This is a great time to be hearing about this alternative with the recent announcement that Bacon, Hot Dogs & Processed Meats Are Carcinogenic.
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