A Dash of Dulse
Superfood Dulse—Palmaria palmate—is an alga which grows in the northerly Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It is entirely hand-harvested during the summer season, and has twice the nutritional value of kale.
An extraordinarily nutritionally vibrant food, dulse is also a wildly usable culinary addition, and can be cooked in a variety of ways, or eaten raw. Its smoky, slightly salty flavor is especially enhanced by pan-frying or sautéing, which transforms its flavor profile to strikingly resemble that of fried bacon.
The salt-tinged flavor of dulse makes the dried flakes a natural for soups, egg dishes, salads, and baked goods. The natural rose color of this seaweed dries to a lovely dark red, giving it an additional appeal as a presentation enhancement. Its nutritional benefits are superfood-myriad, and include improved digestive health, thyroid regulation, red blood cell production, bone health, and memory.
Cooking With Dulse Flakes
As a new addition to the well-rounded kitchen, dulse flakes present a wealth of creative opportunities. They may be used as a topping for eggs and pizza, as a flavoring for dips and sauces, and in vegetable dishes for an added dimension. They mix beautifully with raw garlic, and a dose of the protein-rich flakes in chimichurri makes a delicious variation on an Argentinian classic.
A few other uses for dulse flakes:
- Irish soda bread: dulse is frequently used in this traditional recipe to add a pleasingly soft saltiness to the texture while adding a bit of color. It also works very well in sourdough recipes;
- Soups and stews: dulse is a nutritionally-rich substitute for salt, and adds a savory dimension to vegetarian and non-vegetarian soups and stews. Try dulse flakes in recipes that favor chickpeas, greens, carrots, and sweet potatoes;
- Salads and dressings: dulse mixes well with bitter greens, and makes a terrific addition to vinaigrettes that also use a high sugar-content vegetable like beets;
- Salsas and dips: try dulse flakes in a carmelized onion, roasted garlic and yogurt dip, or in homemade salsa;
- Smoothies and homemade trail mix.
History and Origination of Dulse
The nutritional and gastronomic benefits of dulse were well known to the Mi’kmaq of Maritime Canada, who used the seaweed for its medicinal properties. Historically, dulse has been considered a necessary and versatile food by coastal populations of Western Europe and Iceland; in the British Isles and Scandinavia, dulse has been used as a foodstuff for centuries.
Today, dulse is in the midst of a renaissance. Dried and pickled dulse is becoming a mainstay of artisanal food companies around the world, and the salty, smoky seaweed is finding its way into gourmet and gourmand recipes as chefs both professional and amateur experiment with what this unique plant has to offer the taste buds. As a medicinal component of the healthy diet, dulse is being heralded as a vitamin-rich superfood with a sophisticated antioxidant profile.
Cultivation of Dulse
In the United States, dulse is currently being cultivated in northern coastal states like Maine and Oregon. It is a fairly difficult plant to grow, and it has a complex life cycle. It must be harvested by hand, and may only be harvested at peak, which is seasonal. Dulse harvesting usually begins in late June and extends until the beginning of October.
Additionally, some dulse is now being grown in controlled environments. Farmed dulse has been an ongoing project of Norway, and has become a reality in Oregon, bringing dulse into a new age of culinary potential in the United States.
About Our Dulse Flakes
Burma Spice sources our dulse flakes from the wild and rocky coast of Maine. Dulse in Maine is harvested by hand from the shoreline.
Dulse is harvested sustainably, and processing is as simple as it gets. It is gradually dried naturally—in the sun—and then chopped into flakes.