Dulce, a bacon substitute
In recent years, (Palmaria pulmata) dulce, a bacon substitute, has become the new kid on the block. It has long been consumed by people from northern Atlantic coast countries and now has promise for Pacific northwest cultivators. It is rich in nutrients and protein and has medicinal qualities. But does it truly taste like bacon? Let’s find out more.
Dulce has been eaten for centuries in Northern European countries, UK, Ireland and Canadian and American cultures harvesting from the Atlantic coast. It also grows in the Pacific and has been promoted by recent advances by Chris Langdon, an aquaculture researcher at Oregon State University’s (OSU) Hatfield Marine Science Center. He began growing dulce in the lab to feed abalone. Langdon has developed a patented strain of dulce (Palmaria mollis) which grows faster than wild dulce (1). The abalone love it and so do people.
Dulce, a bacon substitute with more
Dulce is an excellent source of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, and it contains up to 16 percent protein by dry weight. “Dulce is a super food, with twice the nutritional value of kale,” said Chuck Toombs (Herring, 2015), a professor in OSU’s College of Business. Prannie Rhatigan (2009) wrote that it has anti-helminthic properties or that it de-worms people and animals. She recounts Irish villagers in the 1880’s that waded through the surf to get to a certain rock that grew dulce at the risk of the tides moving back.
Dulce has a delicate umami buttery flavour that is brought out with light frying. It certainly crisps up like bacon, that is, the Irish rasher or Italian pancetta thin forms that practically dissolve in the pan. However, it in no way has the consistency of Canadian thick cut bacon. The key is not to burn it in the pan. Just lightly fry it until the purple dried colour turns to taupe or light brown. It is best to separate the strands from the clump that comes in the bag.
The natural dried form is easy to work with. Snip with scissors and sprinkle over salads, nachos, popcorn, or embedded in quesadillas. You still get that umami roasted flavour but also a kick of spiciness! I also like nibbling on dulce as a snack as I do with roasted nori sheets.
Let’s hope the future will serve up Pacific grown dulce in our grocery stores as more consumers discover it as a superfood and bacon substitute. A plus for dulce!
Herring, P. (2015), The next best thing-sea vegetables, Oregon State University/Oregon Agricultural Progess, Summer 2015, accessed 2017/10/07, http://oregonprogress.oregonstate.edu/summer-2015/next-big-thing-sea-vegetables
Rhatigan, P. (2009). Irish Seaweed Kitchen. Co. Down, Ireland: BooklinkR