A type of seaweed that naturally tastes like bacon is quickly becoming the IT new super-food. Dulse is a red seaweed that can be found along the coasts from California to Alaska.  It has been used as a food source for centuries throughout Scotland, Ireland and Scandinavia, but is now being rediscovered at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport.

“Back in the 1990’s we thought that the most valuable crop from our dulse/Abalone co culture system would be the abalone.”

Chris Langdon is a Professor of fisheries at OSU. He says they’ve discovered that the red seaweed is the more valuable of the two.

“It is so expensive when you buy dulse in your whole food store.  It can be anywhere from thirty to ninety dollars a pound dry weight.”

The pricy seaweed is so packed with protein and other nutrients researchers are finding that it tops another leafy green super food – kale.

“It has quite a lot of protein, about 16 percent. It has a lot of trace metals and minerals, a lot of iodine and antioxidants such as polyphenol and vitamin C. It also has these Marine oils that are unsaturated so for those that like eating salmon and crab, these are packed full of these poly-phenol fatty acids.”

Interest from a chef at the Food Innovations Center in Portland, a little oil and a frying pan brought out the flavor in the seaweed; putting dulse in the global spotlight.

“We thought we were on to something completely new. But when we started reading reports and cooking books, we found that others had reported that dulse can taste like bacon when you fry it  So it’s not new to our strain of dulse, but it is well known by people who like eating seaweed.”

They have been testing dulse in a variety of different food products from ice cream, to salad dressings and even beer.

“I think that the interest we have received from all over the world indicates that this is something quite important. There are a lot of people who are vegan or vegetarians or from various ethnic minorities who can’t eat meat or pork, so the potential of them being able to eat something that tastes like bacon or just simply an alternative to meat is very appealing to those folks.”