Why It Works
- Dressed with chili oil, soy sauce, Sichuan peppercorns, and garlic, the chewy jellyfish take on a huge amount of flavor to compliment their texture.
Given the merciless heat wave happening on the eastern seaboard, I have stopped eating meat. Something about it feels unpleasant when the temperature exceeds 90 degrees. Maybe because meat is so heavy and rich? But then again, so is ice cream and butter and chocolate...
This means I haven't been eating offal lately. Over the past month or two I've barely touched a liver, seen nary a gizzard, and have not once sliced my knife across a slab of fatback (with the skin still attached). It's just too hot for me to ingest these kinds of mammalian organs, but still I miss the textures.
I miss the bounce of tripe, the chewiness of tendon, the crunch of pork cracklings.
Piscine parts are a good alternative for hot weather. Fish eggs feel nice, the slippery little spheres, then the cool release of the egg bursting and sliding down the gullet. Or something like fish bones—that same guilty-pleasure-potato-chip-crunch, but much lighter than pork cracklings.
And then there's jellyfish. Only a few of the many species are edible; both the umbrella-like body and the arms can be eaten. Prepping it is a matter of removing the gonads and other inedible membranes in the body. The slivers of jellyfish are a little crunchy, a little chewy.
Dress the jellyfish in chili oil and a bit of soy sauce, Sichuan peppercorns, and a lot of oil made fragrant with browned garlic and scallions. The mixture tastes good with tripe, jellyfish, or even cold-dressed noodles, for that matter. The oil enriches the jellyfish, which has fairly bland flavor for all its textural excitement.
You'll find packs of jellyfish, either salted or not, at most Chinese markets and some Japanese ones, even those without a fish section. To use, rehydrate and rinse the jellyfish in several changes of cold water, then dress it in the fragrant oil mixture. All of it can be done in under ten minutes, and doesn't require more than two minutes of stove usage.
It's offal-reminiscent eating for hot summer's day.
1 package jellyfish packed in salt, about 10 ounces
2 green onions, thiny sliced
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1/4 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon chili oil
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns, toasted and ground (optional)
A drizzle of sesame oil (optional)
Chopped cilantro to garnish
To prepare the jellyfish, rinse the jellyfish under cold running water. Then fill a large bowl with cold water and let the jellyfish soak for an hour, until the strands are supple and not salty. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, brown the garlic and scallions in the oil over low heat in a wok or sauté pan. When browned, add the jellyfish and the rest of the ingredients. Mix thoroughly, then garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve slightly warm or cold.
Leftover jellyfish may be refrigerated for 4-5 days.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 18g||23%|
|Saturated Fat 2g||10%|
|Total Carbohydrate 2g||1%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||1%|
|Total Sugars 0g|
|Vitamin C 3mg||15%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|