Dulse, usually called Dillisk in Ireland, is a red seaweed found on granite rocks on the Atlantic coast of Ireland, Scotland, Iceland and parts of Canada. It is a popular snack in Ireland, and used as a food supplement in Canada and Iceland.
Dulce is usually eaten raw, either straight from the sea, or dried into crispy bites. It has many other names, including dilsk, dillisk, sol, red dillisk or red dulse, sea lettuce, or creathnach. The latin name is Palmaria palmata, and it is technically a type of algae known as Rhodophyta.
If you are from the West coast of Ireland the chances are that you are already a huge fan of Dulse. Dillisk forms an essential part of the culture of the region. From an early age children will know to be up early on the full moon and will go with their parents to the remote, storm-swept rocks off the coast of Donegal, where they pluck bag after bag of the seaweed off the rocks. Dulse is easy to pick, but is inaccessible., Without the very low tide that a full moon or a new moon provides, it is just not possible to get enough of it to make the trip worthwhile.
As soon as you arrive home with the wet dulse from the sea, it is essential to dry it well as quickly as possible. Even a day left in a plastic bag while wet will cause the Dillisk to rot, and the smell of Dulce that is starting to go off is nauseating.
So long as it is well dried Dulse can be kept for many months without degradation. If left around in an Irish household it is not likely to last more than a few days as the whole family tucks in.
As well as eating Dulse in its dried form there are many recipes that you can use to cook with Dulse. The most common is to add it to soups, where the strong iodine and salt content add deep flavour and nutrients to the soup.
Where to pick Dulse
The best places to pick Dillisk (Dulce) are on the more inaccessible coastal areas. In particular Donegal in Ireland has some fantastic rocks. Anywhere that has large rocky surfaces will work well, but some of the better areas include Malinbeg, Glencolmcille, and Killybegs on the southern coast of Donegal, the Aran Islands, and County Galway.