It’s time to start eat­ing jel­ly­fish

There are too many of them in the sea, and the prob­lem is only go­ing to get worse. Is the so­lu­tion to eat them?

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Weekend -

THE world has a jel­ly­fish prob­lem.

In 2014, they in­vaded a Scot­tish sal­mon farm, killing 300,000 fish overnight. They have shut down power sta­tions, in­ca­pac­i­tated a US nu­clear war­ship and had a sig­nif­i­cant so­cioe­co­nomic im­pact on tourist ar­eas. At

the mo­ment, a group of Aus­tralian sci­en­tists are re­search­ing the pos­si­bil­ity that they will even­tu­ally ut­terly de­stroy all other life in the oceans.

The an­swer? Cook­ing them, ac­cord­ing to one Ital­ian sci­en­tist.

Ste­fano Pi­raino, a zo­ol­ogy pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Sa­lento, is about to em­bark on a Euro­pean com­mis­sion-funded study to try to demon­strate that the ideal lo­ca­tion for jel­ly­fish is on our din­ner tables.

“We need to adapt, to turn this prob­lem into an op­por­tu­nity,” says Pi­raino. “We started to an­a­lyse the chem­i­cal com­po­si­tion of jel­ly­fish in the Mediter­ranean and re­alised that they were sim­i­lar to the ones eaten in the far east. So we thought: ‘Why don’t we try to eat them?’”

If jel­ly­fish were to be­come a reg­u­lar op­tion at your lo­cal chippy, one of the main ad­van­tages would be their har­di­ness. Even if you re­move a jel­ly­fish from the sea, it doesn’t stop new ones from be­ing born, as they spawn from polyps at­tached to the bot­tom of the ocean. So, un­like most fish, there’s no pos­si­bil­ity of per­ma­nently dam­ag­ing stocks. Or as Pi­raino puts it: “It’s a sus­tain­able food source!”

Is it a de­li­cious food source, though? Jel­ly­fish is known for a del­i­cate, slightly salty, flavour that means it’s eaten more as a tex­tu­ral ex­pe­ri­ence. Its slimy, slightly chewy con­sis­tency means that Chi­nese and Ja­panese gour­mands of­ten eat it raw or sliced up as a salad in­gre­di­ent. “I once had a Miche­lin­starred chef pre­pare a jel­ly­fish tast­ing, and one fish ex­pert said that it was like the best oys­ter he’d ever tasted,” says Pi­raino. “In Sar­dinia and Si­cily, they take sim­i­lar sea an­i­mals to the jel­ly­fish, fry them up, and they’re a lo­cal del­i­cacy. I think it will only be a mat­ter of time un­til we’re widely adapted to eat­ing them.”

Pi­raino isn’t alone: a slow food con­fer­ence in Genoa fea­tured a stall pro­mot­ing fried jel­ly­fish. The in­creas­ing de­mand for jel­ly­fish from Chi­nese peo­ple liv­ing in Italy means that Asian ex­porters are al­ready strug­gling to keep up.

“The op­por­tu­ni­ties are there and, ul­ti­mately, we need a bet­ter plan than to sim­ply stay out of the wa­ter,” says Pi­raino. “We need to train fish­er­men so we can get some value from this un­used biomass.” While some din­ers may still feel squea­mish at the prospect of tuck­ing into the gelati­nous sea crea­tures, it sounds like Italy, at least, is ready for that jelly.

– The Guardian

Pho­tos: Shut­ter­stock

Iso­lated jel­ly­fish swim­ming in a dark blue back­ground.

A taste of Jel­ly­fish

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