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What’s up with this seaweed that tastes like bacon?

It sounds too good to be true, but unlike the millions owed to you by a Nigerian lottery, there may actually be some truth behind this rumour of a seaweed that tastes like bacon.

The discovery comes from researchers at Oregon State University. Even though looking for and working towards the goal of a bacon-flavoured seaweed seems like a legitimate scientific endeavour in itself, the discovery is apparently something of an accident.

Researcher Chris Langdon and his team were initially trying to find a food source for the abalone sea snail, a highly treasured creature. Using the dulse seaweed that is usually found around the Pacific and Atlantic coastlines, the team from Oregan State spent 15 years creating a new strain of the seaweed at the Hatfield Marine Science Center.

Ordinarily, dulse is not your usual seaweed. It’s rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and in high in protein as well. Up until now, it has been sold in its dried form as a nutritional supplement or as a cooking ingredient for these reasons.

That’s until the scientists made a discovery that rocked the worlds of foodies, scientists and bacon-lovers alike – the new strain of dulse tastes just like bacon when it’s fried. Mr Langdon personally attested to this discovery.

The magic of the bacon-flavoured seaweed is twofold. Firstly, unlike its unhealthy counterpart, the seaweed is said to be twice as nutritious as popular superfood kale. Secondly, the researchers involved have been successfully growing it extremely quickly, making it a sustainable food source that’s as healthy as it is delicious.

Mr Langdon, so focused on his work to find a food source for the abalone sea snail, was not even the one to truly realise what he had found. His colleague, Chuck Toombs from the College of Business Department, had simply stopped by his office with a mind to find a new project for his own students, when he noticed the growing plants.

Mr Toombs has said this farmable variety of dulse has the “potential for a new industry for Oregon”, and that it is also a superfood.

So when can we taste this seaweed and judge for ourselves?

It may be a way off yet, but the process is definitely already in the works.

Jason Ball is a project research chef at the Food Innovation Center who has plenty of prior experience in food labs helping other chefs make the best use of ingredients. Jason is helping with the delicious research into just how the bacony seaweed may be used.

The team at the center is looking at both uses when the ingredient is raw and cooked in a variety of ways. So far, they have mentioned successes in a rice cracker and a salad dressing as an ingredient, as well as the obvious option of eating it by itself.

In what is a dream come true for many, the seaweed that tastes like bacon has plenty of potential to make its way around the world if and when this delicious and healthy food-source can be grown in the kinds of quantities that many will no doubt be clamouring to try.

We can only hope that the clever people at Oregon State will next discover a seaweed strain that tastes like chocolate.