Jellyfish numbers have been rising quickly within the Mediterranean and one species that has lengthy been a hazard for bathers there – the mauve stinger – is more and more being seen across the British Isles. Now one marine biologist says if we will not beat them we must always eat them.
I am hovering in a makeshift kitchen, watching one in every of Italy’s most outstanding marine biologists gleefully taking part in chef. Prof Silvio Greco is targeted on the effervescent contents of a giant pot.
Dressed up for the half in chef’s whites, conventional hat and purple apron, the sustainable conservation skilled is ideal for the function.
“On this water I’ve put lemon juice and vinegar. After boiling for a couple of minutes I’ll plunge it into this ice,” he gestures, explaining how the new water each sterilises, eliminating micro organism, and destroys the stinging poison.
What for some could be meals hell has received my tastebuds leaping with curious pleasure: we’re about to eat jellyfish. For Greco, it isn’t the primary time.
“I like seafood,” he beams. “Jellyfish remind me of oysters. Once you eat them you expertise an explosion of the ocean in your tongue. They’re, in spite of everything, 90% seawater.”
In the present day he is enlisted the skilled assist of restaurant chef Marco Visciola, who confesses he is by no means cooked jellyfish earlier than. He’ll fry it in a tempura batter manufactured from potato, wheat and rice flours, blended with glowing water. “No salt?” I ask. “Zero,” he tells me. “The jellyfish already has the salty flavour of the ocean, so to convey out its flavour I’ve left the batter impartial.”
This is not some perverse chef’s problem, however a part of a marketing campaign that Greco is selling on the Gradual Fish pageant. Held each two years at Genoa’s porto antico the occasion encourages sustainable fishing and accountable consumption. There are at the very least 4 occasions as many jellyfish within the Mediterranean now as there have been in 2004, with world local weather change, air pollution, and overfishing principally guilty. And the message this cooking demo is sending out is: if you cannot defeat them, eat them.
“The ocean is stuffed with them and it is a large drawback for biodiversity,” says Silvio Greco, describing jellyfish as rampant, opportunistic species that instantly take over any empty area within the water. He explains how their unfold is devastating marine meals chains and ecosystems, and the way unlawful fishing of pure jellyfish predators like tuna and turtles has left the coast clear for them to multiply. “Now man,” he concludes, “should be the brand new predator of jellyfish.”
It is an concept the UN’s Meals and Agriculture Group is encouraging too. For years, fishermen have been discovering their nets more and more burdened with undesirable jellyfish that they merely throw again into the ocean. Silvio Greco hopes this may change and says that sustainability apart, jellyfish is definitely good for you: wealthy in protein and collagen, low in energy, and fat-free.
At Gradual Fish I uncover the “eat it to beat it” method is not restricted to the Mediterranean. There is a Caribbean delegation of fishers, researchers and marine biologists right here to pool concepts on find out how to battle their worst invasive species: the lionfish. They’re attempting to get it on to menus from Mexico to Honduras, Costa Rica to Barbados. Its tender meat, which apparently tastes like snapper, definitely sounds extra appetising than jellyfish.
However the jellyfish cooking demo is, surely, the largest crowd-puller of all the pageant. Because the tray of contemporary medusa fritta is handed round, keen fingers seize the piping scorching morsels. I choose my piece. The tempura is beautiful, cracking seductively between my tooth. I might anticipated the jellyfish to be chewy like calamari, but it surely’s squidgier. It would simply be as a result of I am hungry however I actually prefer it.
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A younger girl exclaims it is “surprisingly good” whereas a Taiwanese woman tells me jellyfish is a typical antipasto again house and she or he was curious to see what the Italians would do with it. The person beside me is unimpressed. “The batter’s good however the jellyfish tastes of nothing and it is slippery,” he grumbles. I ask a three-year-old what she thinks. “Yummy or yucky?” “Yummy!” she grins at me, chewing fortunately. She was in all probability hungry too.
Marco Visciola has additionally made a boiled jellyfish salad with rice vinegar, sesame oil, carrot and cucumber – a standard recipe a Japanese colleague gave him. Once more I am impressed, though I feel jellyfish’s impartial style – or lack of style – might lend itself to any decisive flavours.
However Marco’s offered. “For me, it was a brand new expertise and there have been a whole lot of curious folks,” he enthuses, including that he now plans to place regionally caught jellyfish on his restaurant’s summer time menu. “It is a novelty a chef can gives diners. I feel it can turn into well-liked.”
I am not fully satisfied. However when you by no means need one other seaside vacation to be ruined by a coastal jellyfish invasion, maybe it truly is time to cease fretting and begin frying.