Researchers from the Oregon State University have patented a new strain of seaweed that looks and tastes like bacon. The red seaweed is called Dulse, an edible seaweed that grows wild along the Pacific and Atlantic coastlines.
Dulse is eaten by people as a nutritional supplement, after it is dried. However, researchers have found a new variety that can be farmed and eaten fresh. The team at Oregon State University claim that it is not only heavy on protein — 16 percent by weight, and packed with minerals and vitamins like Vitamin A and C. The team had a tough task to develop the strain as they had worked for about 15 years. The actual plan was to develop a super food, to feed commercially grown prized mollusc called abalone.
“When you fry it, which I have done, it tastes like bacon, not seaweed,” said Chris Langdon, OSU fisheries professor.
The new strain of seaweed looks like translucent lettuce, and contains high amounts of protein and other nutrients. The abalone grew at an amazing rate, which led a Hawaiian abalone operating to produce them on a commercial-scale. Dulse is popular for its “umami” flavor, a Japanese word that describes the fifth flavor found in mushrooms, meat, cheese and bacon.
Researchers felt that the food could benefit humans, and the development team started to create new food using seaweed. The Oregon Department of Agriculture has awarded a grant to explore Dulse as a “specialty crop,” and officials mentioned that it is their first time seaweed has made to the list.
The team has roped in a specialty chef to help with the recipe and refine the product. Langdon stated that Dulse grows using a water recirculation system. He added that an industry could be created in eastern Oregon as easily as you could along the coast with a bit of supplementation.
“The Food Innovation Center team was working on creating products from dulse, whereas Jason brings a ‘culinary research’ chef’s perspective,” said Gil Sylvia, director of the Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport. “The point that he and other chefs make is that fresh, high-quality seaweed is hard to get. ‘You bring us the seaweed,’ they say, ‘and we’ll do the creative stuff.’”