Researchers from Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center say they’ve created and patented a type of seaweed that has the potential to be sold commercially as the next big superfood.
The reason? It tastes just like bacon, they claim.
The bizarre but tasty creation is actually a new strain of red marine algae called dulse that is packed full of minerals and protein and looks like red lettuce.
Dulse normally grows in the wild along the Pacific and Atlantic coastlines and is harvested, dried and sold as a cooking ingredient or nutritional supplement.
“Dulse is a superfood, with twice the nutritional value of kale,” said Chuck Toombs, a faculty member in OSU’s College of Business and a member of the team working to develop the product into a foodstuff. “And OSU had developed this variety that can be farmed, with the potential for a new industry for Oregon.”
The team began researching ways of farming the new strain of dulse to feed abalone, but they quickly realized its potential to do well in the human-food market.
“There hasn’t been a lot of interest in using it in a fresh form. But this stuff is pretty amazing,” said chief researcher Chris Langdon. “When you fry it, which I have done, it tastes like bacon, not seaweed. And it’s a pretty strong bacon flavor.”
They’ve received a grant from the Oregon Department of Agriculture to explore dulse as a “special crop” and are working with the university’s Food Innovation Center in Portland and several chefs to find out ways dulse could be used as a main ingredient.
Though there is currently no commercial operation that grows dulse for human consumption in the U.S., the team is confident the seaweed superfood could make it big. If it really does taste like bacon, that would be no surprise at all.