Oregon State University researchers created and patented a new strain of the protein-rich red marine algae known as Dulse. When cooked, this new stuff really tastes like bacon. The engineered strain is high in protein, and purportedly offers twice the nutritional value of everyone's favorite vegetable-du-jour, kale.
Dulse (Palmaria sp.) grows in the wild along the Pacific and Atlantic coastlines. It is harvested and usually sold for up to $90 a pound 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 – one he has been growing for the past 15 years.
This strain, which looks like translucent red lettuce, is an excellent source of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants – and it contains up to 16 percent protein in dry weight, Langdon said.
"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 Europe, they add the 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."