It tastes just like bacon! Oregon State University researchers have made many dreams come true by discovering a seaweed that has a high nutritional value and tastes just like bacon. A new strain of Pacific dulse, a native red algae found in the intertidal zone along the West Coast, has been been successfully cultivated in land-based vats of seawater. It’s nutritious, fast growing, and, when cooked, tastes like bacon.
As a sea “vegetable,” dulse has been used for centuries in the local cuisines of Ireland, Iceland, and Scandinavia. Dulse can be a valuable alternative crop in regions with a short supply of freshwater, because filtered saltwater can be used for its growth. According to lead researcher Chris Langdon, “Dulse is an excellent food- with up to 16% protein dry weight, unsaturated marine fatty acids, no cholesterol as found in bacon, minerals, including lots of iodine and antioxidants”
There will soon be some other dulse products, using different strains from the one used for the bacon one, according Langdon, “The dulse-sesame salad oil dressing and the dulse-rice cracker scored very high and we have decided to introduce these first into the marketplace, sometime this Fall.” It’s hoped that the bacon will be available soon afterwards. There’s already a demand for improved plant-based bacon products.
But researchers have high hopes for dulse. Pushing the envelope, they’re testing dulse veggie burgers, trail mix, and even dulse beer. Working directly with Langdon, other researchers are experimenting with different strains that have different flavors and attributes. With fresh dulse, they’re looking for a tender chewiness and slightly salty finish. Pan fried they say, “dulse can be light and crispy with a savory saltiness, like bacon.” Creative instincts are in full play. Even smoked dulse popcorn peanut brittle is being considered!