Dulse is an edible red seaweed growing wild on the coastal rocks of America’s North Atlantic coasts and also parts of Europe. It is harvested by hand from June to October, then dried in the sun. Finally, it gets packed as pieces, flakes, or powders and sold as a food or a nutritional supplement.
In some parts of the world, such as Iceland, dulse is a popular snack food, revered for its high dietary fiber content. As this ingredient increases in popularity in the United States, more people are asking, “what does dulse taste like”? We’re about to look at its flavor, uses in the kitchen, and lots more.
Describing the taste of dulse
Dulse has a mildly salty, savory flavor with a subtle taste of the ocean. It is loaded with smoky umami flavor, and some compare it to bacon. However, any bacon lover will certainly be able to distinguish between the two.
The texture of dulse will depend on how it is prepared. Eaten fresh, it has a soft, rubbery texture that is chewy. Once the dried version is fried, it is crispy. Added to slow-cooked meals, it breaks up and offers flavor, rather than a definable texture.
The smell of dulse is a fishy and funky combination until it gets cooked. It then has a milder aroma and changes color from reddish-brown to a dark shade of green.
Popular culinary uses
Unless you know a good seaside spot where the seaweed grows, sourcing fresh dulse will be a challenge. Few markets will sell it fresh. If you manage to get your hands on some, you can eat it like a vegetable snack. It is a good idea to wash it first to remove any sand, shells, or other sea life.
The powdered form is much more common – it is found in fish markets, health food stores, and from manufacturers selling online.
Dulse powder is excellent, added to juice and smoothies for a drink with added health benefits. If that option isn’t appealing, consider adding it to chili, meat dishes, or soup. Dulse is packed with umami and acts as a flavor-enhancer in dishes.
Sprinkle dulse powder over food at the end of the cook to provide a unique tasting meal. Baked potatoes, stuffed peppers, and salads are suitable meals for this addition.
Dulse butter is an excellent alternative to garlic butter. Perfect baked in a cob loaf or slathered onto a prime rib.
The flakes are delicious pan-fried. Once they’re added to the heat, they cook within seconds and will burn quickly. Remove them before they char, and you’ll have a tasty snack that easily rivals kale chips on flavor and goodness. You can also serve them as a breakfast option with eggs.
If you prefer to eat the flakes with other food, consider adding them to a sandwich. Dulse is an excellent plant-based bacon substitute. Combined with cheese, lettuce, tomato, and mayo, the crispy texture adds something special.
In Ireland, local seasiders sell flakes from their stalls as a healthy snack. The Irish also have a long history of adding dulse to white soda bread.
Handy tip: Sprinkle flakes over a salad and they will absorb any ambient moisture.
Where to buy?
Maine Cost Sea Vegetables have built up a solid reputation for producing the best dulse flakes on the market. You can check out their customer reviews and also buy their Dulse Flakes from Amazon.
How to Store Dulse
The fresh version of dulse can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days. Wrap in cling film or store in an airtight container to help maintain freshness.
Dried dulse can be stored at ambient temperature, in a dry position away from direct sunlight. Stow it in an airtight container for up to two years.
What are the health benefits of dulse?
Dulse is a form of algae, offering a range of nutritional benefits that will impress. Whether you consume it freshly picked or dried, the nutritional value does not degrade over time.
Dulse is an excellent source of vitamin B6, minerals, and fiber. It is also rich in antioxidants, iodine, and fatty acids. If you need to up your potassium and iron intake, then dulse will help.
Frequently asked questions
Does dulse taste fishy?
Eaten fresh from the seaside, dulse has a mildly fishy taste, which is significantly reduced once cooked.
Is it safe to eat dulse?
Dulse is safe to eat and has been consumed by civilizations for centuries. Common sense should prevail, so avoid fresh dulse that grows near industrial zones or intensive farming where pesticides may be used.
What is a useful dulse substitute?
If you need to replace dulse in a sandwich, use kale chips; as a flavor enhancer in slow-cooked meals use mushroom umami seasoning or monosodium glutamate (MSG).
Did you know?
- Dulse is also known as palmaria palmata, dillisk, sea parsley, sea lettuce flakes, creathnack, or red dulse.
- The minerals found in dulse are excellent for building bone density and protecting joint damage.
- This seaweed is a useful thickening agent in food.
Should you try dulse? We think so. You could get a pleasant surprise and discover your vegan-friendly bacon substitute! Dulse tastes delicious to some, and others find it unpleasant, so you’ll need to test it out for yourself.
Taste and texture aside, dulse is well worth consuming for the potential health benefits. It’s got a lot of goodness, without the calories. If you enjoy kale chips, then this may well be an ingredient you’ll enjoy.
Have you used dulse in any weird and wonderful ways? Let us know in the comments below.