Seaweed Bacon– Yay or Nay?

Would You Eat This Fakin’ Bacon

Here at we like to explore delicious but different dishes.  (See for example our favorite new churro!)

But now there’s a product on the horizon that promises to be delicious and healthy.

Researchers at Oregon State have just seemingly won the “it’s healthy, but it tastes and looks like bacon” lottery.

Recently, they stumbled onto a form of red seaweed that might just be a healthy substitute for real bacon.  There is potentially a large market for a healthy bacon substitute in the vegan arena alone.

The seaweed, a form of red marine algae, looks sorta like red lettuce but has twice the nutritional value of kale. However, when fried, it tastes and looks like real bacon.

The seaweed strain they’ve developed is a type of red algae that normally grows along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. According to Chris Langdon (an Oregon State researcher), his team started growing the new strain while trying to find a good food source for abalone, a food popular in many Asian countries.

Find out more about this interesting find below.

NEWPORT, Ore. – Oregon State University researchers have patented a new strain of a succulent red marine algae called dulse that grows extraordinarily quickly, is packed full of protein and has an unusual trait when it is cooked.

This seaweed tastes like bacon.

Dulse (Palmaria sp.) grows in the wild along the Pacific and Atlantic coastlines. It is harvested and usually sold for up to $90 a pound in dried form as a cooking ingredient or nutritional supplement. But researcher Chris Langdon and colleagues at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center have created and patented a new strain of dulse – one he has been growing for the past 15 years.

This strain, which looks like translucent red lettuce, is an excellent source of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants – and it contains up to 16 percent protein in dry weight, Langdon said.

“The original goal was to create a super-food for abalone, because high-quality abalone is treasured, especially in Asia,” Langdon pointed out. “We were able to grow dulse-fed abalone at rates that exceeded those previously reported in the literature. There always has been an interest in growing dulse for human consumption, but we originally focused on using dulse as a food for abalone.”

The technology of growing abalone and dulse has been successfully implemented on a commercial scale by the Big Island Abalone Corporation in Hawaii.
“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.”The vegan market alone could comprise a niche.

Langdon, a professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at OSU and long-time leader of the Molluscan Broodstock Program, has two large tanks in which he can grow about 20-30 pounds of dulse a week. He has plans to up the production to 100 pounds a week. For now, they are using the dulse for research at the Food Innovation Center on dulse recipes and products.

However, Toombs’ MBA students are preparing a marketing plan for a new line of specialty foods and exploring the potential for a new aquaculture industry.

“The dulse grows using a water recirculation system,” Langdon said. “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.”

The background of how Langdon and his colleagues developed dulse is outlined in the latest version of Oregon’s Agricultural Progress at :

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