An algae with bacon flavor, high nutritional value and rich in protein? Sounds like a speculative dish from the Bistro In Vitro, but it’s already existing: it’s dulse. Scientists at Oregon State University have been working to engineer and harvest a unique variety of dulse that, when fried, tastes just like the fatty, tasty pork belly but with greater health benefits.
Dulse (or Palmaria palmata) grows in the wild along the Pacific and Atlantic coastlines. It can be bought at the supermarket in dried form as a cooking ingredient or nutritional supplement. But researcher Chris Langdon and colleagues at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center have created and patented a new strain of dulse.
“In Europe, they add the [dulce] powder to smoothies, or add flakes onto food”Langdon said. “There hasn’t been a lot of interest in using it in a fresh form. But 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”.
Langdon bred the strain while trying to find a new superfood source to help abalone – aquatic mollusks that are very popular in Asia – grow faster.
This algae is a natural source rich in fiber and loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, with twice the nutritional value of kale. Researchers are already creating delicious recipes with dulse: veggie burgers, salad dressing, and even beer. If dulse does taste as good as it sounds, it won’t only be a win for bacon lovers, but also a product for all those who currently can’t enjoy the delicious meat, such as vegans, vegetarians, or those who don’t eat pork for religious reasons.