Can You Eat Jellyfish? (Includes Recipes)

Updated on October 3, 2017
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Gordon has been cooking and experimenting with food since childhood. He loves coming up with new and tasty culinary creations.

There are a great many creatures on the land and in the sea that are immediately off-putting to a majority of people in the Western world when it comes to considering them as food. A particular species may be considered unclean or simply repugnant, it may be considered impractical to clean or prepare, or the creature may be perceived as poisonous or in some other way hazardous to human health. Jellyfish at first consideration perhaps fulfills all three of these criteria but the reality is that these creatures of the deep are extremely popular foodstuffs in Asia, particularly in countries such as China and Japan, and have been for centuries. This means that certain types of jellyfish are indeed edible and can be enjoyed cooked or prepared in an extremely wide variety of different ways.

Important!

Only jellyfish purchased fully prepared from reputable retailers should be eaten. It is not safe simply to take a jellyfish from the sea yourself for food unless you have the required specialist knowledge regarding what can and can not be eaten.

Why Should We Eat Jellyfish?

Sustainability is a major factor in food consumption in the world today, particularly with regard to stocks of a wide variety of types of fish in our seas and oceans. While many species have faced or continue to face extinction due to over-fishing on the part of mankind, the absolute opposite is true of jellyfish. They are so plentiful in fact that one scientist recently propounded the theory that they will eventually become so numerous, they alone will threaten the existence of other creatures in the seas and oceans. This means that conservationists can not only eat jellyfish with a clear conscience, we can all actually be doing our planet a potential favour in terms of the bigger picture by adding this delectable sea creature to our menus. Could jellyfish even represent a possible solution to food shortage crises around the world? Surely the idea is worth exploring...

Where Can I Buy Jellyfish?

Jellyfish purchasing options in a Chinese hypermarket
Jellyfish purchasing options in a Chinese hypermarket

The availability to buy of edible jellyfish will of course vary hugely dependent upon geographical location but a good place to look is in a Chinese or general Asian supermarket or grocery store. In the photograph above, you will see jellyfish prepared in different ways, from whole, to roughly chopped and portioned, to thin strips designed principally for inclusion in raw salads. You could also search for the availability of products online that can be purchased via mail order.

Ready to eat jellyfish strips
Ready to eat jellyfish strips

If you are trying this sea creature for the first time, it makes sense to buy the smallest portion you can find so that you limit cost and potentially waste. This little foil pack of strips in brine is perfectly suited to this purpose.

What Does Jellyfish Taste Like?

Jellyfish strips in brine
Jellyfish strips in brine

It's certainly fair to say that jellyfish doesn't taste much of anything, other than the salty brine of the sea. As with many other new foodstuffs, however, it is worth trying it in its natural form prior to enhancing it with other ingredients. A great way of doing this - other than simply eating it on its own - is to add a little bit to some hot buttered toast.

Jellyfish strips on toast
Jellyfish strips on toast

There's no disputing that flavour enhancers are required if jellyfish is to be enjoyed at anything like its best. Oils and vinegars of different types are good, as are herbs, spices, garlic and a whole host of other solid ingredients. Below are a couple of very different jellyfish salad recipes which you may wish to consider preparing if you purchase a pack of these strips.

Mediterranean Style Jellyfish Salad with Bruschetta

Simple Mediterranean style jellyfish salad with bruschetta
Simple Mediterranean style jellyfish salad with bruschetta

Cook Time

Prep time: 5 min

Cook time: 2 min

Ready in: 7 min

Yields: 1 serving

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for bruschetta
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • Pinch black pepper
  • Pinch dried basil
  • 1 yellow banana leg tomato
  • 2 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 thin slices from red onion half
  • 1 tablespoon jellyfish strips
  • 2 large lettuce leaves
  • 1 slice of bread
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Salt

Instructions

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Mixing salad dressingBanana leg tomato, cherry tomatoes and red onion slicesCombining jellyfish salad ingredientsShredded lettuce bed for jellyfish saladJellyfish salad on shredded lettuce bedToast and crushed garlic cloveBruschetta ready for serving
Mixing salad dressing
Mixing salad dressing
Banana leg tomato, cherry tomatoes and red onion slices
Banana leg tomato, cherry tomatoes and red onion slices
Combining jellyfish salad ingredients
Combining jellyfish salad ingredients
Shredded lettuce bed for jellyfish salad
Shredded lettuce bed for jellyfish salad
Jellyfish salad on shredded lettuce bed
Jellyfish salad on shredded lettuce bed
Toast and crushed garlic clove
Toast and crushed garlic clove
Bruschetta ready for serving
Bruschetta ready for serving
  1. Pour the extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar in to a mixing bowl. Season with the black pepper and basil and stir well. Note that no salt is required in the salad as the jellyfish is salty enough.
  2. Roughly chop the yellow tomato and cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Add to the bowl along with the separated strands of red onion and stir to combine and evenly coat in the dressing.
  3. Add the jellyfish and stir again.
  4. Wash the lettuce leaves and dry with kitchen paper. Roll and shred. Season with a little salt and pepper before arranging in the base of a deep serving plate to form a bed for the salad. Spoon the salad on to the lettuce.
  5. Toast the bread and rub one side with a peeled and lightly crushed garlic clove. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Slice in to quarters and arrange around the salad to serve.

Mexican Style Jellyfish Salad with Mini Poppadoms

Jellyfish salad with onions, chillies and beans served with lime and coriander poppadoms
Jellyfish salad with onions, chillies and beans served with lime and coriander poppadoms

Cook Time

Prep time: 5 min

Cook time: N/A

Ready in: 5 min

Yields: 1 serving

Ingredients

  • 1/4 red bell pepper
  • 3 fine slices from red onion half
  • 1 green chilli
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon canned red kidney beans
  • 1 tablespoon jellyfish strips
  • Black pepper
  • Generous pinch dried coriander leaf/cilantro (or teaspoon of chopped fresh herb)
  • 2 handfuls lime and coriander (cilantro) poppadoms

Instructions

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Peppers, chilli and garlicPrepared salad vegetablesRed kidney beans and jellyfish is added to saladCombined salad is ready to serve
Peppers, chilli and garlic
Peppers, chilli and garlic
Prepared salad vegetables
Prepared salad vegetables
Red kidney beans and jellyfish is added to salad
Red kidney beans and jellyfish is added to salad
Combined salad is ready to serve
Combined salad is ready to serve
  1. Separate the onion slices in to strands. Seed and finely slice the bell pepper. Add both to a mixing bowl.
  2. Seed and finely dice the chilli and peel and finely dice the garlic before adding both to the bowl.
  3. Season with some black pepper and the coriander/cilantro. Add the lime juice to the bowl and stir well.
  4. Add the red kidney beans and the jellyfish to the salad and carefully stir fold through.
  5. Plate the salad in one half of a deep serving plate, arrange the poppadoms alongside and serve.

© 2017 Gordon N Hamilton

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