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Dulse: At the Intersection of Moss Landing, Seaweed, and Bacon

A few weeks ago an article in the New York Times  announced the discovery of a seaweed that “grows quickly, is packed with protein, has twice the nutritional value of kale and tastes like bacon.” All and all it seemed like a grandiose claim for any food, never mind one that is vegetarian, sustainable, highly abundant, AND at the same time delicious (bacon = delicious).

To add to the unlikely combination of attributes of this super food, it turns out a team of researchers and business owners at Moss Landing Marine Lab (MLML) are growing it across the street from our office in Moss Landing. What are the chances of that?

We recently caught wind of this newly built aquaculture facility and were invited by Michael Graham, Ph.d., owner of Sustainable Seaculture Technologies, LLC, to stop by to learn more about this super food they call “Monterey Bay Reds.”

Dulse (Palmaria mollis) is a native species of seafood found in our waters, loosely floating around in the bay. Dr. Graham and his team harvested their crop of dulse out of the bay and grow it in tanks that overlook the pristine waters it came from. Our local species is similar to the dulse found on the East Coast of the US (Palmaria palmate), which has been enjoyed by humans for over 1000 years. Monterey Bay Reds are a super food of sorts, high in protein and low in fat. They contain no sugar, are full of antioxidants, trace minerals and nutrients like iodine.

Dr. Graham and his wife Erica’s operation is simple: a few open tanks of circulating seawater from the Monterey Bay Sanctuary pump nutrient-rich water to feed the seaweed, and the sunlight does the rest. In optimal conditions the crop can double in size in just one week!

To prepare the seafood for sale, they wash and rinse the seaweed with brine. The seaweed is delivered fresh, not dried, and after a quick rinse (to remove the brine), is ready to add to your salad, sushi, soup, or garnish. Shelf life in the bag unopened in the fridge is about 1 week. You can also dry it in a dehydrator or in an oven at very low temps for a longer shelf life.

Dr. Graham and his wife started this business last year and have been delivering their Monterey Bay Reds to a couple of sushi restaurants in the area, but we are the first to offer their seaweed fresh and direct to our community. We are very excited that our Real Good Fish members will be the first to serve this local delicacy on their plates. Please take a look at this recipe on our website to get inspiration on how to prepare it. And if you're as intrigued as we are and want to learn more, you can also read this recent article in Bon Appétit.

So does it taste like bacon? Cook some up and let us know what you think!