Seaweed (a.k.a. sea vegetables) is an informal catch-all term used to describe multicellular algae species, that—you guessed it—come from the sea! Seaweeds can be classified as red, brown, or green varieties. Most species attach themselves to the ocean floor, while a few species float freely near the ocean surface. Most seaweed growth occurs along coastlines where water depths are shallow enough for sunlight to reach seaweeds anchored to the seafloor. Seaweed is a vital part of the ecosystem in which it grows, acting as a source of both food and shelter for other organisms. With a little encouragement from chefs (and Oprah?) I hope that seaweed will soon become a vital part of the American diet!
Seaweed offers many health benefits, and some even argue that we should be eating seaweed in every meal! A simple google search on the health benefits of seaweed will yield a multitude of websites and peer-reviewed journals eager to inform the public about this underrated “superfood”. This label appeals to a health-conscious audience, but likely repels all others. If you belong to the latter category but are open to an easy entry point, then I invite you to try Dulse!
Sea Vegetable #2: Dulse
This seaweed is probably the easiest one to incorporate into your repertoire. Think of it as a paradoxical cross between bacon and a kale chip! I bought my dulse in dry-form and loved it straight-up or sautéed with garlic and olive oil, resulting in an extremely crisp and bacon-y seaweed chip. My rule of thumb is that dulse is welcome wherever bacon bits may be found, such as a topping for baked potato, popcorn, or macaroni and cheese! Check out this Bon Appétit article on the wonders of dulse and this scientific review of its nutritional properties.
Recipe (more like a suggestion): Dulse Mac ‘n Cheese
I didn’t actually put that much thought into a single application for Dulse, since it is so versatile. For the sake of a nice picture, I threw it on several different things and stumbled across a magical combination: Annie’s white cheddar boxed macaroni and cheese sprinkled with sautéed dulse. I don’t think that I can ever go back to eating this stuff plain! Give it a try with your favorite brand/recipe. For maximum crispiness, wait to top with the dulse until right before you dig in!