What Is Dulse And Why Does It Taste Like Bacon?

Dulse, or palmaria palmata, as it is known by in the world of marine biology, is a type of seaweed. This food from the sea is red and leafy to look at, and Delishably shares that it can generally be found in the Northwest Pacific Ocean and the North Atlantic Ocean, where the water is cool. It grows on rocks and peak season for picking this nutrient rich sea food is June to October. Consuming this lettuce-like seaweed is not a new idea; it reportedly was used by the Native Americans to help treat scurvy in European explorers and settlers to the New World. Like so many foods, dulse has actually been around forever.

That said, dulse is not easy to gather from where it is grown. It must be picked by hand. Bon Appétit notes that, generally speaking, if you are eating dulse, it is most likely going to be in its dried form, unless you live close to where it is picked. Translation: Fresh Dulse is hard to come by. Dried dulse comes in flakes or a powder and has many uses: adding flavor to some of your favorite dishes, in exfoliation scrubs, and other health purposes. Why is it on the verge of becoming popular and trendy in the cooking world? As Intelligent Living reports, a couple of scientists in Oregon have engineered a new strain of this algae with an incredible flavor.

What does dulse taste like?

What does dulse taste like? To quote Homer Simpson, "Mmm ... unexplained bacon." That's right, bacon lovers, there is another way to achieve that addictive, savory, and crunchy taste that bacon offers its fans. Dulse has a mild but salty flavor, according to the Cuisine Vault. If you try it raw, you will notice that it looks like red lettuce. When you bite into dulse, you might be surprised. You can taste that hint of the sea, and fresh dulse also has what is often described as a "chewy" texture. Not to mention, it definitely smells like it came out of the ocean until you cook it. Once cooked, you will notice dulse's red coloring turns to a very dark green.

When does it take on the characteristics of bacon we know and love? It isn't until it is cooked and becomes crispy that dulse takes on that bacon flavor. Oregon State University researcher Chris Langdon worked with Chuck Toombs to engineer this variety of dulse. Langdon told Intelligent Living, "This stuff is pretty amazing. When you fry it, which I have done, it tastes like bacon not seaweed. And it's a pretty strong bacon flavor." Sounds awesome, right? But Cuisine Vault is quick to temper expectations, sharing that while it does indeed taste like bacon, bacon aficionados will be able to tell the difference.

How to cook with dulse

Where does dulse fit into your repertoire of cooking up your favorite recipes? It's an excellent question.The researchers from Oregon State University who created the new dulse strain have been working with their food scientists who have used it to create veggie burgers, salad dressing, and even beer, according to Intelligent LivingBon Appétit notes that if you are cooking with fresh dulse, you want to make certain you wash it well, but unless you've acquired fresh dulse, you will most likely be working with the flakes or powder. Bon Appétit shares that if you pan fry your dulse flakes (which is one of the best ways to enjoy it), you can make a DLT — dulse, lettuce, and tomato sandwich. Or try replacing the bacon of your morning bacon and eggs with the pan-fried dulse.

Dulse powder is perfect to add to smoothies, or you can up the taste of your chili or other soups with its flavor. You can also use it like a salt, giving food a light dusting to add to its taste. The flakes work well in the slow cooker, where they break down and add to your foods flavor. Dulse makes a tasty snack, or take a page from the Irish and add it to your Irish soda bread recipe.

Health benefits

Dulse certainly seems like it has quite the health benefit potential. Per Intelligent Living, Chuck Toombs, one of the scientists at Oregon State University, calls dulse "a super food, with twice the nutritional value of kale." This seaweed is definitely on the spectrum of super healthy.

Cuisine Vault lists its impressive nutrient content, which includes fiber, iodine, B6, potassium, iron, and all of those antioxidants we know and love. But what is really compelling about dulse is that the potency of these minerals and vitamins does not change whether you eat dulse in its fresh form or dried. Insiders know that dulse is great for sprinkling on your salads because it sucks up excess moisture. You can also use it as a thickener. 

Where can you buy this trendy ingredient? This trending super food is available at places like Whole Foods, or order it up online. To store your dried dulce, keep it in an airtight container in a dry place, and it can last up to two years. Fresh dulse doesn't have a long shelf life and must be kept in the refrigerator. Cuisine Vault shares that in the fridge, fresh dulse can last up to three days.