Booming jellyfish populations have become a real nuisance in many parts of the world as masses of the gooey creature are infesting waters, clogging ports and washing up on beaches in the Mediterranean, Japan and Australia.
So what to do about it? Use them for cosmetics, foods or drugs!
Akiko Masuda of the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research in Saitama and colleagues have extracted a previously unknown glycoprotein—a repeating sequence of amino acids with sugars attached—from jellyfish. The compound is a type of mucin, a gelatinous, moisture-retaining substance secreted by animals (it’s a main component of human saliva and mucus, for instance), and it could find uses in cosmetics as a food additive or in drug manufacturing. Since jellyfish mucin has a simpler structure than some other mucins, it may be usable as a building block for creating custom-tailored mucins with antibiotic or other specific properties.
The researchers, who reported their findings in The Journal of Natural Products, extracted the mucin from several species including the moon jellyfish (Aurelia aurita, one of the most abundant in the world) and Nemopilema nomurai, one of the biggest, at up to six feet in diameter and 450 pounds. They found that the mucin made up as much as three percent of the dry weight of jellyfish. So, there is an awful lot of mucin in the world as well.
It’s a very popular dish in spring and summer. It’s delicious and most people would like it if they didn’t know what it was!
... or eat them
According to one of Brisbane’s famous chefs, Lien Yeomans, there are several great dishes based on cooked jellyfish coming out of the Vietnamese kitchen.
The two species of jellyfish that are used for eating are the Sua ro - Bizen Karuga (Rhopilema esculenta) and the Sua sen (Aurelia aurita). Usually, only the top part of the jellyfish is used, and it is sold dried and salted. It is then soaked in cold water and cut into little strips. When put into boiling water, they curl up, and then you make a salad dish to go with it.
Vietnamese Jellyfish Salad (nom sua or goi sua).
200g salted jellyfish
1 green cucumber
1 large carrot
¼ cup sugar
50ml fish sauce
50ml lemon juice
1tspn finely chopped hot chilli
2tbspn crushed roasted peanuts
2tbspns crushed roasted sesame seed
100g chicken breast
100g pork butt
2 eggs beaten
2tbspns chopped coriander leaves
1. Wash, soak and rinse jelly fish in cold water. Drain well, roll up into a tight roll and cut into thin strips. Blanch in boiling water for 15 seconds (until the jellyfish strips curl up). Leave aside.
2. Wash cucumber, cut into quarters lengthwise, seeded and cut into very thin diagonal strips, sprinkled with ½ sugar. Leave until sugar dissolves then squeeze dry.
3. Peel and shred carrot, sprinkle with the rest of the sugar. Leave until sugar dissolves, then squeeze dry.
4. Cut chicken and pork into thin slices, shallow fry; then cut into thin strips.
5. Grease a non-stick pan; make a thin omelette with beaten eggs. Let cool then roll up and cut into thin strips.
6. Mix prepared jellyfish, cucumber and carrot with fish sauce, lemon juice, chilli, crushed sesame seed and peanut and arrange the mixture on a platter and top with strips of chicken, pork, omelette and coriander leaves.
7. Mix well before serving. Adjust taste to achieve a balance of sweet, sour, salty, spicy and nutty.
Marinated jellyfish with green apple dressing
400g salted jellyfish
1tbspn chilli oil
1tspn toasted sesame seeds
1tspn sea salt
Juice of 2 green apples
Juice of 1 lime
1 red Spanish onion, cut into thin slices
100g snow peas cut into thin strips diagonally
Coriander leaves, chopped
1. Wash, soak and rinse salted jellyfish. Drain well. Mix jellyfish with chilli oil, salt and sesame seed.
2. Mix apple juice, sugar and lime juice.
3. Mix snow peas and red onions; arrange this on a plate and top with jellyfish and coriander. Dress with apple and limejuice.
Sesame Jellyfish Donburi
Soak the jellyfish in cold water for three hours, changing the water at half-hour intervals, to diffuse the salt out. Then soak it in hot water for 5 minutes and cool in cold water immediately. Tear the jellyfish into bite-sized pieces. Mix 2 teaspoons of soy sauce, 3 tablespoons of sesame oil, 2 teaspoons of rice vinegar, and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Soak the jellyfish in this for a half hour, then serve it over hot rice and shake sesame seeds over it. ■