At Imperial Restaurant in Portland, Oregon, diners are getting a taste of the latest superfood to hit the market: dulse, a crimson seaweed that’s packed with nutrients and, when fried, offers up an umami flavor similar to bacon. “It disappears in your mouth,” says chef and owner Vitaly Paley.
Wild dulse, which is sold as a specialty item at places like Whole Foods, grows primarily on the shores of Ireland and the north Atlantic coast and is notoriously difficult to harvest: It’s plucked by hand and can deteriorate quickly. But the dulse that Paley sprinkles atop his tuna poke doesn’t come from the ocean—it’s farmed in 6,000-liter tanks at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center. Marine biologist Chris Langdon began cultivating this strain of dulse as a food for abalone in the mid-1990s, but it wasn’t until his colleague Chuck Toombs, from the OSU College of Business, toured the lab in 2014 that Langdon considered serving it to humans.
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