Truffle seaweed is a small species of red algae that grows on the stems of knotted wrack (Ascophyllum nodosum) and more rarely bladder wrack (Fucus vesiculosis). With fluffy fronds that grow up to 5cm in length, ocean truffle can be picked from the shores at low tide during autumn and spring. Because it only grows on other species of wrack, it’s technically a parasite, and it means it has yet to be cultivated successfully. These hairy little tufts range in colour from deep maroon to purple in the cold seasons, with the tips fading to a rusty orange as the weather becomes warmer.
Truffle seaweed shares its nickname with another species – pepper dulse (Osmundea pinnatifida) is often referred to as ‘truffle of the sea’. Both species have small, reddish-purple fronds and share the unique flavour notes of real truffles. The biggest difference – and easiest way to differentiate the two species – is that pepper dulse grows on rocks, and truffle seaweed grows on wracks.
As its name suggests, this seaweed has some of the rich, earthy notes of white truffles, combined with a salty mineral flavour similar to oysters. Much loved by nordic chefs, you can find truffle seaweed on the menu in several Michelin-starred restaurants in this part of the world. Lofoten Seaweed has supplied sea truffle to nordic chefs competing in the Bocuse d’Or Chef of the Year competition in 2017, 2019 and 2023. Also in high demand by bartenders and mixologists, truffle seaweed makes an excellent aromatic in a classic gin and tonic!
Although truffle seaweed contains many of the nutrients found in larger kelp species, it is not primarily known for its health benefits. Its flavour is so strong that you only need a few fronds, or a pinch of flakes, to enjoy the distinctive truffle taste, and therefore sea truffle should be thought of as a spice or natural flavouring agent rather than a health supplement. You can enjoy all the health benefits of seaweed by pairing sea truffle with a more delicately-flavoured seaweed species, such as winged kelp or nori.
The exact nutritional content of seaweed depends on the season in which it was harvested, as well as its location. Seaweed is highly effective at absorbing trace minerals from its surroundings, which is why it’s important to source your edible seaweed from places where you know the water quality to be high. You can read more about where we harvest our seaweed here.
The flavour is at its strongest when fresh. When dried, the distinctive aroma is mellower, though it is said that if you open a bag of dried truffle seaweed and take a sniff, it smells just like a truffle farm. To reactivate the flavour, you can infuse truffle seaweed into fats, such as butter, oils or creams. Serve it with high-quality steak for a unique take on surf and turf, or use some of its delicate fronds as a garnish on top of pasta, fish or seafood. We have even supplied ocean truffle to a local cheesemaker, who produced this truffle seaweed cheese!
Here are three decadent dishes from our recipes page that feature truffle seaweed, or truffle seaweed salt. The creamy carbonara forms a perfect base for the seaweed to infuse its flavour into, and the garnish looks great on top. The white pizza base in our second recipe allows the seaweed’s flavour to take centre stage, and it is complimented nicely by the wild mushrooms. Finally, whipped butter is combined with truffle seaweed to make a flavour combination that is truly unforgettable!