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Umami Bomb: Barnacle Foods Bullwhip Kelp Hot Sauce

If you haven't noticed, we love unique culinary products and flavours here at ARCANISA! When we first encountered this epic Bullwhip Kelp Hot Sauce by Barnacle Foods, we were immediately overcome with excitement. A spicy, umami knockout, the sauce is the ultimate ingredient we didn't know we needed, but now cannot possibly live without!

Run by lifelong Alaskans, Matt and Lia, Barnacle Foods was born out of a deep appreciation for Alaskan ingredients and a profound desire to “capture the essence of the Alaskan coastline”. Matt and Lia express a sense of, and obligation to place that is hypnotic. With the utmost sincerity, they wrote,

We are motivated by our community and the place that we live. We are committed to a model of business where the value from harvested ingredients remains with those who live closest to the areas that they are harvested. This means that all of our products are made in Alaska. We are stubbornly rooted, like a Barnacle to a rock, withstanding all challenging conditions of the coast the crashing waves, frigid wind in the winter, and the best days of summer, too. (1)

We strive to have the least impact on the resource; this includes visiting a different kelp bed for each harvest and only taking a small portion of the kelp bed. We are careful to not take too much from a single area and only use our hands and knife to cut each piece to harvest. (2)

The wild kelp is sustainably and responsibly harvested, produced solely with “clean ocean, strong currents, and some hard working sea farmers”.

Their star ingredient is bull kelp, Nereocystis luetkeana, endearingly referred to as ‘bullwhip’ kelp, grown and harvested in–you guessed it!–Alaska. Dense with nutrients and tenaciously occupying Alaskan coastlines, bull kelp is a phenomenal marine treat. The flavor is notably salty with a savory marine vegetal quality that seaweed lovers everywhere will recognize. The kelp has a long tubular stalks that are capped with an eruption of slippery ribbons, resembling a ferocious glossy botanical whip. Matt and Lia slice the stalks into beautifully symmetric and springy rings which they season and leave to rest in acidic pickling liquid to create their addictive kelp pickles. Barnacle Foods suggests adding them to rice bowls, ramen, oysters, halibut, sandwiches or Bloody Marys for a kick of seasoned acidic crunch and we couldn’t agree more. You can also venture into the world of kelp salsa to elevate burritos, eggs, potatoes, or even to add playful complexity to a mundane bag of chips. We’ve used their salsa verde for chilaquiles and can attest that the salsa transforms the dish into a spectacular savory delight.

Stalks are also blended with spicy piri piri peppers (a flavour our Portuguese tastebuds nostalgically crave!) which results in a bizarrely oceanic hot sauce that is curiously atypical but addictively delicious. It opens with strong salty, mineraly, umami notes of kelp and closes with moderate heat and pronounced acidity. We've added this sensational sauce to more dishes than we can count, each with resounding success: think savory pie crusts, cream cheese, roasted nuts, chicken and waffles, you name it! On a regular basis we love adding a dash to enliven our lunchtime salads and naturally we've become the envy of the office! The hot sauce is flavorful and incredibly fun to experiment with and the label itself, complete with an epic illustration of Lia touting a kelp whip and pepper cluster, is a show-stopper. We admit to buying tank tops with the same logo because seeing the bottle on our counter just seemed insufficient given our love of the image!

We are simply smitten with the flavours of the Bullwhip products. On top of the phenomenal taste, Barnacle Food’s commitment to preserving their Alaskan coastline, highlighting the glory of local ingredients, and creating and sharing truly unique culinary experiences is enchanting and we truly hope you find an opportunity to try out some of their products! Who doesn't want local Alaskan goodies made from sustainably sourced kelp thats harvested only with the hands of compassionate, creative, and downright cool sea farmers?!


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