Alongside their love of hoodies and the word “disruption,” one way to recognize techies away from their computers is through their penchant for unusual foodstuffs. Whether it’s otherworldy recipes designed by AI, 3D-printed candy, or specially engineered red algae made to look like juicy shrimp, folks in tech like their culinary experience to be as cutting edge as their smartphones. Well, move over bleedable veggie burgers, because there may soon be a new snack in town: jellyfish chips.
Developed as part of physicist Mie Thorborg Pedersen’s master’s thesis at the University of Southern Denmark, the technique offers an alternative to the salting process that’s been used in Asian cultures for centuries. It involves extracting water from the jellyfish using a combination of kitchen salt and alum. Not only is the new technique considerably faster at producing an edible snack than the traditional 30-to-40-day drying-out process, but it also results in considerably tastier food — complete with crispy texture.
“It is fascinating how you can turn a very slimy gel into a crispy chip,” Pedersen told Digital Trends. “We developed a method for preparing jellyfish for eating with inspiration from how gels behave in different solvents. When we immerse jellyfish in 96 percent ethanol we observe how the gel of the jellyfish collapse, in line with theories concerning gels. After 2 to 3 days we can then let the alcohol evaporate and get this paper-like jellyfish chip.”
The reason why the creation is so promising to Pederson and others is because it offers a potential new food source whose population has — contrary to other sources of overfished seafood — exploded in recent years. Jellyfish numbers are so great that, in some parts of the world, jellyfish-killing robots have been deployed to deal with the problem. (And it really is a problem: Nuclear power plants have been shut down as a result of swarms of jellyfish clogging up the pipes!)
“What makes this exciting is that people in the Western world are starting to look for alternative food sources such as insects, and the jellyfish is a supplement to this,” Pederson said.
A paper on the work was recently published in the International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science.