Here’s a quick guide to dulse, an Atlantic sea vegetable that’s easy to like for its distinctive flavor and versatility.
Though it once grew prolifically in the waters around Western Europe, dulse is now harvested primarily off the coast of North America. Dulse gathered for commercial purposes comes from the northeast coast, from Maine to Newfoundland. This Atlantic coast seaweed is considered quite safe to eat.
Dulse, with its wide red hand-shaped fronds and tangy, sharp-and-salty flavor, has also found great favor in other Atlantic regions, including Ireland, Scotland, Iceland, and parts of Scandinavia.
At 22 percent protein, dulse is second only to nori among common sea vegetables, and one of the few sea vegetables with enough protein to be of significance. It’s rich in iron, potassium, magnesium, and fluoride and supplies significant amounts of vitamins C, B6, and B12. Find out more about its nutritional profile.
Ways to use dulse
In the kitchen, dulse is quite versatile — it can be used straight from the package as well as crisp-toasted or reconstituted.
As a crisp garnish: Cut a small amount of dulse into bite-size pieces with kitchen shears and sauté in a bit of vegan butter or olive oil until crisp. Use as a garnish for baked or mashed potatoes or pasta.
As a seasoning: Crumble skillet-toasted dulse finely and sprinkle as a seasoning over salads, hot or cold noodles, and tofu dishes. This also makes a great popcorn seasoning!
As a bacon substitute: On a medium-hot skillet (dry or with a little oil), toast small pieces of dulse until crisp. Use these crinkly and crisp pieces of dulse in lettuce and tomato in sandwiches as a tasty substitute for bacon. Prepared this way, dulse is also good in vegan quiches and tofu scrambles.
As a seafood substitute in soups: Cut a handful of dulse into 1/2-inch pieces with kitchen shears and add to chowder about 10 minutes before it’s finished cooking. Same goes for ramen noodle or other Asian-style soups. Used in this way, dulse is a terrific substitute for seafood.
Marinated: Reconstitute dulse in vinaigrette, then chop and add to a salad of crisp greens or to a marinated salad of lightly blanched vegetables such as cauliflower or green beans.
Dulse tea: There are a number of readymade pulse tea products, but it’s easy to make your own. Simply steep a handful of chopped dulse in boiling water in a small teapot or individual mug for a few minutes. Removed the leaves (use them as suggested below for reconstituted dulse). Sweeten the tea as you like.
Reconstituted and teamed with vegetables: Dulse is also versatile when reconstituted and used in tandem with simply prepared vegetables. Although soaking makes it a bit milder and less salty, you may want to start by using it sparingly at first until you are accustomed to its distinct flavor.
To reconstitute, place coarsely chopped pulse in a bowl and cover with warm water. Allow to soak for 5 to 10 minutes, then drain. Its volume increases two to three times when reconstituted. Here are a couple of suggestions:
- In recipes calling for cooked spinach, chard, collard greens, or other dark leafy vegetables, add about 1/2 cup of reconstituted dulse.
- Dulse is compatible with the flavors of corn and potatoes. Add 1/4 cup or more chopped and reconstituted dulse to succotash, creamed corn, sautéed potatoes, or potato salad to add a distinctive twist.
Here are some recipes from around the web:
- Maine Coast Sea Vegetables list of dulse recipes
- Vegan DLT (Dulse, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwich)
- Lemon Dulse Spread
Where and how to buy dulse
At the retail level, dulse generally comes in 1.5- to 2-ounce packages (yes, it’s very light!). Two of the most popular store brands are Maine Coast Sea Vegetables and Vitamin Sea. Both are certified organic and guaranteed to be harvested from pristine waters. Look for them at your local natural foods stores (or ask them to special order for you if not on the shelf) or order online.
Maine Coast offers a number of dulse products — larger quantity packages, as well as flakes, powder, and seasonings.
Vitamin Sea offers also larger quantity packages of dulse than what’s available in the store, as well as dulse flakes that are easy to use as seasoning or garnish.