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Superfood seaweed: Tastes like bacon and it’s healthier than kale

WATCH: Scientists at Oregon State University have developed a new form of edible seaweed that when cooked, tastes like bacon.

TORONTO — It might just be the unicorn of food — seaweed that tastes like bacon and packs a huge nutritional punch.

“Dulse is a superfood, with twice the nutritional value of kale,” said Chuck Toombs of Oregon State University, where a team of researchers has patented a new strain of the algae.

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“Kale doesn’t have the protein level of dulse and it won’t have the iodine concentrations of dulse,” explained researcher Chris Langdon.

Not only does dulse contain about 16 per cent protein, it also has antioxidant properties and quite a lot of vitamins A and C, according to Langdon.

His research team received a grant from the Oregon Department of Agriculture to explore dulse as a “specialty crop.” It’s apparently the first time a seaweed has made the list. But dulse itself is not a new discovery. It’s been used as a food for humans for centuries.

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There are some species that can be found off Canada’s Atlantic coast. It also grows wild in the Pacific and can reportedly be purchased at some health food stores.

“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.”

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“The novelty is that we’re growing the dulse in a cultivation system here. We’re also linked with a group of food innovators in Portland who are developing all kinds of products with dulse,” Langdon added.

bacon seaweed
Chris Langdon has been growing and studying dulse at Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport Oregon for decades and is now working with the Food Innovation Center in Portland on creating healthy and appealing dishes. Stephen Ward, OSU Extension and Experiment Station Communications
bacon seaweed
Chris Langdon has been growing and studying dulse at Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport Oregon for decades and is now working with the Food Innovation Center in Portland on creating healthy and appealing dishes. Stephen Ward, OSU Extension and Experiment Station Communications

Dulse-based rice crackers and salad dressing are, so far, among the most promising creations.

“Theoretically, you could create an industry in eastern Oregon almost as easily as you could along the coast with a bit of supplementation. You just need a modest amount of seawater and some sunshine.”