What Are Dulse Flakes?

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An Asian mother and son prepare a meal in their kitchen
An Asian mother and son prepare a meal in their kitchen (Image: MIXA next/MIXA/Getty Images)

Usually associated with Asian and especially Japanese cuisine, seaweed has been eaten for centuries in Scandinavia and the British Isles, too. One notable example is dulse, a red variety still especially cherished in Ireland and Atlantic Canada. It's available as a vegetable in whole leaf form, or in flakes as a seasoning and garnish.

The Vegan Bacon

Dulse is processed for sale simply by washing off any sand, shells or other debris, and drying it to a leathery texture. It's often described as a vegan equivalent of bacon or jerky, because if its chewiness and its salty-sweet flavor. If the leaves are fried in hot oil, or toasted lightly in the oven, they gain a slightly deeper flavor and become remarkably delicate and crisp. Dulse flakes are made by pulverizing the dried and toasted leaves, producing either large flakes for garnish or small flakes for use as a seasoning. Both retain the full, concentrated flavor of the whole leaf.

Flavorful Flakes

The briny flakes, with their delicate crunch and seaside hint of iodine, add a pungent note and interesting texture to many dishes. Add them to green salads instead of bacon bits, or toss them in potato or pasta salads for their vivid color and bold flavor. A sprinkling of dulse flakes lends a rich flavor to fish-based soups and sauces, either stock-based in the Western style or dashi- or miso-based in the Japanese style. It's especially apt as a colorful garnish on chowders or fish dishes. Fine dulse flakes are a nutrient-rich alternative to salt as a table seasoning, or in batters and breading mixtures.

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