Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

dulse Palmaria palmata, probably the most widely distributed of the edible red seaweeds; it occurs in both northern and southern hemispheres, in the Indo-Pacific as well as the Atlantic, in temperate and cold waters. The rose-red or purplish plants have an average height of 30 cm (12"). Nutritious, slightly salty to taste, they are accounted among the most delicious seaweeds, although there are many countries in which they occur but are not normally eaten.

Ireland is where dulse has been consumed with the greatest enthusiasm since ancient times. It is mentioned as an item of hospitality (together with onions and salt) in the 7th-century Irish secular laws Corpus Iuris Hibernici. In modern Ireland dried dulse is chewed as a snack particularly in coastal regions and it is often used as a relish with potatoes or boiled milk. Because of this association with Ireland, the English common name ‘dulse’, which is essentially the Irish name, has come to be in widespread use, even in countries where English is not spoken.