The Friday Fillip

There I was, racking my brains late in the week (no easy thing) for a subject for this Friday Fillip. And then it came to me: jellyfish. We haven’t talked about jellyfish on Slaw, which, seeing that we’ve talked about pretty much everything else (law lords, marijuana, street racing, deserts, the BBC, Canada’s home page, and the like), was a clearly open invitation.

So let’s start big. Very very big.


That big.

Meet Noruma’s jellyfish, some of which can reach over 400 pounds in weight. As if that singular prospect weren’t enough to turn this into a fillip upside the head all by itself, let me add to avoirdupois the fact that these babies are currently plentiful, so plentiful in and around Japanese waters at least that they’re clogging and breaking fishermen’s nets. For those unlucky souls who won’t be travelling to Japan in the near future, I offer instead the National Geographic website article on the Noruma jellyfish invasion, which, you’ll no doubt be pleased to learn, has more pics of the polyps.

We generally celebrate jellyfish as paragons of spinelessness, and true enough, they’re lacking a skeleton, whether exo- or endo-. But if they’re not spiny they sure are barbed. The tentacles of many jellyfish species are equipped to send out barbs that emit toxins, some of which can be deadly indeed. The prince of poison, when it comes to jellyfish, is not the monster pictured above but the tiny fragile thing you see below.

irukandjiThat small. The size of the head of a match. But whoo boy! is this one unpleasant: the Irukandji is believed to be the most venomous creature in the world and has caused deaths in the waters of Australia, where, apparently, it abounds lately.

Not all sweetness and light, the jellyfish. (And they worry about sharks!) But, if well lit, they make lovely models for photography. Flickr has over 147 thousand entries for that collection of species, from a pink jelleyfish, to green jellyfish, to blue and orange.

But unless I’m lit, I’m unlikely to go the ultimate step of eating one — because jellyfish does enter into cuisine, believe it or not. You’re braver than I am, of course, so herewith for your delectation merely one recipe for what they’re going to be marketing as “the seafood of the future“:

Jellyfish Tempura

– About 200 grams salted jellyfish
– Sunflower oil, for deep frying
– 25 grams cornflour
– 25 grams plain flour
– 2 teaspoons of toasted sesame seeds
– A pinch of salt
– 100 millilitres of fresh, ice-cold soda water

Rinse the salted jellyfish under cold running water for 5 minutes. Then place in a bowl and add boiling water. Allow to sit for about 15 minutes. Drain and then rinse with cold water. Drain, cut into chunks about 2 centimetres across and dry thoroughly by rolling in kitchen roll and squeezing.

Sift the cornflour, flour and salt together in a bowl, add the sesame seeds and stir in the soda water to make a thin batter (the soda water must be fizzy for best results).

Dip the chunks of jellyfish into the batter and drop them in the hot sunflower oil to fry for around 1 minute. The batter should expand and crisp up to a golden colour. Lift out and allow to drain. Serve with a sweet chilli or soy dipping sauce.

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