Monday, July 28, 2014

Discovering dulse

“Can you make some more of those dulse chips for dinner?” my husband Ralph asked.

It was late. We were hungry. The water for noodles was about to boil and the roasted vegetables had 15 minutes to go in the oven. I looked at the clock, then turned toward Ralph.

“Sure,” I told him. “The oven’s already hot. I can get them ready in time.”

I took down a large cast iron pan and lightly coated it with extra virgin olive oil. I opened the bag of dulse, releasing an aromatic hint of low tide, and filled the pan with torn off pieces of the reddish-purple leaves.

Although the seaweed Palmaria palmate has been a part of our diet for almost 40 years, making chips out of it is a new discovery. Previously, I added dulse to stir-fries, soups and sandwiches. Sometimes for a snack, I even ate it straight out of the bag. I still use it in those ways, but now I also roast it. Oven roasted dulse adds a special melt-in-your-mouth goodness with a satisfyingly salty, (although no salt is added) must-have-more flavor.

For those unfamiliar with it — that’s most Americans — dulse is one of thousands of wild edible sea plants. This particularly tasty sea vegetable comes from northern coastal waters of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans where it grows on rocky outcrops. 

Harvesting Dulse in Ireland
(photo from

A rich source of iodine, potassium, iron, fiber and protein, dulse is a regular part of the diet in Ireland, Iceland and coastal regions of Canada as well as in Japan and Korea. In the United States, however, not many people have heard of dulse, let alone tasted it.

While there are several companies that sell my favorite sea plant, we are long-time customers of Maine Coast Sea Vegetables. During early summer through fall, the family-owned company based in Franklin, Maine, sustainably harvests its organically certified product from the remote and chilly waters of Gulf of Maine bays.

Dulse drying and being harvested by the folks from Maine Coast Sea Vegetables
(photo from

Dulse is such an important part of our diet that we buy it in bulk, ordering more than a pound at a time, which is enough to last us a year. For those new to dulse, two-ounce packages also are available at local health food stores or online. Since it is a dried food and comes in vacuum-sealed packages, it doesn’t spoil or require refrigeration.

2-oz pkg
Directly from the bag, dulse has a somewhat leathery jerky-like texture but any toughness disappears with even the smallest touch of moisture. When my husband adds it to salads, he likes to soften it first by quickly running a few pieces of the leafy sea vegetable under the faucet, but when I make dulse chips, a moist product is the opposite of what I’m after. Briefly roasting dried dulse on a lightly oiled pan in a medium-hot oven removes whatever moisture is present, leaving behind thin sheets of crispness that dissolve in the mouth almost as soon as they’re tasted.

By the time our roasted vegetables were done and the cooked noodles bathed in homemade pesto, my batch of crunchy dulse chips was also ready to enjoy. Ralph and I filled our plates with a little bit of everything (confession: some of us may have had more than a little bit...) and sat down to another yummy and nutritious feast.

“After all these years, I can’t believe we just discovered how good dulse is as a chip,” said Ralph as he bit into another sliver of my crinkly concoction.

I looked at him as he reached for another handful.

“Better late than never,” I said as I batted his hand away from the pan. “Hey, save some for me. I want more too.”

Sherry’s Dulse Chips Recipe
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly coat the bottom of a pan with about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.

Place about a quarter-ounce of dried dulse (the exact amount is not important) on the oiled pan and bake for 15 minutes.

While in the oven, use a fork to gently turn the dulse once or twice to make sure all sides are evenly baked. It doesn’t matter if every individual piece get turned, just do your best to mix it up a little.

After 15 minutes, check for doneness by lightly touching the baked dulse. If it feels brittle and crisp, it’s done. Take out of the oven and let cool for a few minutes before eating.

Leftover dulse chips can be stored on a shelf in a sealed container and will remain crisp and crunchy for several days.

Learn more about dulse in this short video (below) about the Maine Coast Sea Vegetable company which aired on the weekly PBS television show, American Heartland.

Maine Seaweed Harvest - America's Heartland

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