The jellyfish population in the waters surrounding South Korea is out of control. So numerous, so dangerous to swimmers, so disruptive to the local fishing economy, that Korean scientists developed a robot to locate jellyfish and blend them into nonexistence. It's a cnidaria frappé out there.
The robot/jellyfish NutriBullet, harsh as it may seem, is only one response to a global trend. Today’s warmer oceans are particularly suitable environments for the gelatinous ocean denizens, as some jellyfish reproduce at higher rates in increased temperatures. The jellification of the ocean, however, is a point of debate within the science community. Some researchers speculate the increased numbers of jellyfish are a result of climate change, while others counter that jellyfish populations are in a constant state of ebb and flow.
This week, Danish researchers introduced a plan for getting jellyfish out of the oceans and into our mouths. Meet the jellyfish chip (the jellychip!). By soaking the skin of the jellyfish in alcohol and letting it evaporate, the scientists discovered a way to render the coagulated substance crispy. The process removes the water from the animal’s skin and, like curing an egg yolk in salt, leaves a small, dry chip.
What emerges is a papery, crinkled chip, light in color and texture. Think even thinner and lighter than a dehydrated beet or radish slice.
Mie Thorborg Pedersen, a gastrophysicist from the University of Southern Denmark, devotes herself to the drying and consumption of jellyfish. In reference to the chip, Pedersen notes that “the mouth feel, and the aesthetic appearance, in particular, have gastronomic potential." Vague, but promising.
While there exist Japanese, Korean, Thai, and Chinese dishes that center on jellyfish, this development could be a significant move to introduce the squishy sea creature to the Western palate. Could this be the beginning of a long lasting, ocean benefitting friendship? I, for one, wouldn’t mind a peanut butter and jellychip sandwich. Or maybe some sprinkled over a cold noodle salad.
Words by Valerio Farris at Food52
[Photo via Getty]