The beginnings of a jellyfish crisp, University of Southern Denmark
With jellyfish a common delicacy in Asian countries, the momentum’s growing to bring it to our shores in the shape of a crunchy, healthy snack. Will the Scottish consumer give it a chance?
Yes, you read it right. We’re talking about eating jellyfish. Yes, jellyfish. Not jelly beans, not jelly and ice-cream, but jellyfish - that jiggly thing from the ocean that bobs about.
Apparently, Danish researchers have come up with a tasty jellyfish crisp, that they hope will begin to broaden its appeal globally.
Food innovation from Denmark
A team from the University of Southern Denmark has developed a new technique to create a ready-salted, crunchy jellyfish snack by using ethanol to remove all the water in the jellyfish. This preserves the jellyfish by drying it out, which gives it a crunchy texture. This crisp texture has been compared to that of thin paper. It gently melts in the mouth when eaten.
The crisps are normally plain-tasting, but different flavours can be infused by introducing different alcohols. And a wider range of flavours could be possible by experimenting with different sauces or spices. More research is needed to refine its texture and reduce salt levels.
The chef of a new restaurant in Denmark, opening in May this year, plans to experiment with jellyfish chips on his new menu. It's hoped that this culinary creativity will enhance the food science innovation, and help jellyfish products find a home in western cuisine.
The jellyfish food market in Scotland
The climate is changing, and so too are the seas around Scotland.
The North Sea could be heating up and it looks like the jellyfish like it.
From the moon jellyfish, blue and barrel jellyfish, to more poisonous creatures like the lion’s mane jellyfish, shoals of jellyfishes are increasingly attracted to British seas. So, jellyfish could become a reliable Scottish food source both at home and for overseas markets.
How it goes down elsewhere
In China, jellyfish have been eaten for over 1700 years, and they’re considered a delicacy across many parts of Asia.
They’re often consumed as a salad ingredient with chillies and soy sauce. They can also be cut into strips and flavoured with mustard, incorporated into sushi, in soups, or dried and eaten as a snack.
One of the snags though has been the long drying process of jellyfish, which takes up to forty days. But the scientists from the University of Southern Denmark have found a way to turn jellyfish into crisps in around two days.
Healthy and sustainable?
Supporters say jellyfish will be a low calorie, high protein snack. It's also rich in vitamin B12, magnesium and iron.
Comparing the fat content with a potato crisp, a 25 gram portion of jellyfish crisps contains only about 0.5 grams fat, while a bag of ready salted crisps contains around 8 grams of fat.
Jellyfish don’t have many predators, resulting in rapid reproduction. Overfishing is increasingly leading to an imbalance in the marine food chain and increasing numbers of jellyfish swarms. Jellyfish can endanger valuable fish stocks and they can also get stuck in fishing nets. Making jellyfish an edible market proposition could help to solve some of these problem, while bringing the consumer a new protein source.
The pioneering technology of creating jellyfish crisps is still in its early stage, but researchers are confident and see great potential for a sustainable jellyfish sector.
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