Vegetarians and health-conscious consumers rejoice! A team of researchers from Oregon State University (OSU) have developed a dulse seaweed strain that taste just like delicious, salty bacon, with the added bonus of being good for your health.
The seaweed is prepared by either smoking it or frying it in order to give it flavor. It’s worth mentioning that this particular strain grows quicker than any other and was developed 15 years ago by Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center (Newport), with the project being led by professor Chris Langdon.
Professor Langdon gave a statement saying that bacon flavored dulse seaweed strain is “pretty good”. He went on to inform that there is a small difference: “I’m not sure if it’s exactly like bacon — for those who love bacon, those fatty edges that get all crispy, it doesn’t have that”. But the professor did mention that the product is most likely the best bacon substitute that anyone is ever going to get.
But the dulse seaweed isn’t just tasty. It’s a type of red algae that can be found along the coasts of the Atlantic and pacific oceans, and if consumed, provides the human body with much needed vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. If that’s not enough, in dried forms it also contains 16 percent (16%) protein.
The reason why professor Langdon started growing the dulse strain is because he wanted to create a super-food that could be used for abalone, a popular Asian dish. The dulse was intended to absorb the carbon dioxide (CO2) and the ammonia that the abalone is known for producing, and transform them into nutrients and protein. In addition, the abalone also eats dulse before it’s killed.
Langdon himself likes to create a salad by frying the dulse and mixing it with some shiitake mushrooms.
He started thinking about putting the red algae on the market roughly a year ago, when Chuck Toombs, business professor at Oregon State University’s College of Business showed up at professor Langdon’s office in search of business projects that he could present to his students. He saw the potential in the dulse seaweed strain and took it to Oregon State University’s Food Innovation Center.
Michael Morrissey, director at the Food Innovation Center, pretty much instantly echoed professor Toombs’ assessment, saying that the strain shows great promise because of how rapidly it grows. Currently, the product sells for $60 to $90 per pound, however the researchers are actively working on making it more affordable.
Oregon’s Department of Agriculture was fully supportive of the business Endeavour. It approved the research grant requested by Oregon State University, as well as designated the dulse strain as a specialty crop. It’s the first such label to be held by any strain of seaweed.
The next step for the team was to bring Jason Ball, a Chicago-native chef, into the project in order to design various dishes that could be prepared using the product. Although he had worked with dulse in the past, he gave a statement saying that he felt very free from a creative perspective and went completely crazy with his work. Overall he came up with 50 different ideas.
While dulse is already popular in Asia and Northern Europe, Americans have not quite taken to it yet. But professor Langdon hopes that with a little rebranding US residents might open up to it. The strategy is to position it as a sea vegetable.
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