Dillisk or Palmaria palmata is a deep or ferrous red seaweed found on the pristine shores of the North Atlantic. It is necessary to wait for a low tide to collect this amazing ‘sea vegetable’ from rock pools and shallow water, as it grows at the bottom of the shore. It’s flat, leathery textured fronds can be found attached to the rocks or to the stalks of a different type of seaweed, ‘oarweed’ which is a larger brown kelp.
It has doubtless been harvested for many a century, however the earliest record of Dilisk harvesting is 1400 years ago in the writings of St Columba and the monks of Iona.
Dilisk’s nutritional capacity is spectacular, containing all trace elements needed by humans. Besides being packed full of iron, it is also a great source of protein (Dilisk consists of 10-20% protein) as well as other minerals such as calcium, magnesium and beta-carotene. Throughout the centuries, Dilisk has also been an important source of dietary fibre. Dilisk also has major health benefits. The high levels of Iodine found in it, assist in regulating the metabolism through the thyroid gland, and thus can be used to aid weight loss or gain, as well as increasing energy levels. Recent research in Ireland and the UK have found that elements contained in Dilisk can inhibit the process that leads to high blood pressure.
Eaten as a low calorie snack Dilisk packs a punch with its unique and distinguished flavour. It is also an extremely versatile seaweed in cooking, as it can be used in soups, chowders, stews or salads and even added to bread or pizza dough. Milled or finely diced Dilisk can also be used to enhance the flavour of meat dishes and as a healthy alternative to salt due to its lower sodium content.