Help! There is a Jellyfish in my Plate

An Englishman a Scotsman and an Irishman walk into a restaurant and order a jellyfish soup…Nope, it is not a joke and could become a daily reality in the not-so-far future. As a matter of fact, jellyfish could, after a long and thorough process, included (along with insects and algae[5]) in the fast-growing list of Novel Food[9]. This much is apparent from the all-Italian research lead by the CNR-ISPA (the Italian Institute of Sciences of Food Production ) researcher Antonella Leone [2,8], which has also gained European fame[3].

This research showed that not only jellyfish could be used as nutritionally and functionally rich food,  but also as a subject for pharmaceutical research as it has been found that these soft -bodied, weird, swimming animal contain substances that could yield anticancer and antioxidant effects[10,6].

Quite obviously not all jellyfish species could be used as food since some species contains irritating and toxic substances. Among the hundreds of kinds of jellyfish, the research has focused on three of the most common species in the Mediterranean sea, which are the Aurelia sp1., Cotylorhiza tuberculata and the Rhizostoma pulmo.[8]

spiegeleikwal_voor_de_westkust_van_sardinic3ab
One of the species (Cotylorhiza tuberculata) analysed in the research. Pretty neat, huh?

The use of these jellyfish as food could lead, as added benefit, to a decrease of the huge swarms or blooms (that is how big groups of jelly are called), that cause several problems, not only to fishing but also to the South European coastal tourism.

Their substantial rising and consequential thriving in the Mediterranean is linked to various circumstances, such as global warming, overfishing, the transformation of habitats, ocean acidification, etc…[4,7]

In china and in other far-eastern countries as Japan, Korea, or Malesia it is already, and has been for centuries, possible to eat delicious gourmet dishes based on jellyfish, generating a turnover of various millions, so much that western nation as USA and Australia begun to formulate and produce jellyfish based products specifically intended for export to Asian countries.[1,7]

The process to manufacture and preserve such products it is actually pretty simple. Once the jellyfish are gathered from the waters, they are sprinkled with sodium chloride (common table salt) and aluminium salts, which allow to reduce the water content and lower the pH, thus providing a firmer texture to the “meat”[6].

From a nutritional perspective, jellyfish are essentially composed of protein, like collagen, that could be also used as livestock feed, since, being jellyfish a marine animal, they are exempt from infection and disease that affects vertebrates (i.e. BSE)[6]. Furthermore, they are low-fat, low-carbs and are a naturally high source of water and minerals, with a caloric intake, calculated on the base of a desalted fully edible product, of 20 kcal per 100g. Not bad![1]

Among the best example of the use of jellyfish in the Asian cuisine, here are some recipes: jellyfish salad, jellyfish and chicken stirfry, and jellyfish with roasted duck.

P.S.: Some restaurant in Italy (in Lipari to be precise) have already started to include jellyfish in their menu!!

Buon Appetito!

🍍🚫🍕

Andrea Di Vita


References


[1] Y. H. P. Hsieh, F. M. Leong, and J. Rudloe, “Jellyfish as food,” Hydrobiologia, vol. 451, pp. 11–17, 2001.
[2] “Jellyfish as resource,” in Novel foods – research, innovation and sustainability, 2015, vol. 21, no. October.
[3] E. Scientific and C. Milan, “Shaping the Future of Food Safety , Together,” no. October, pp. 14–16, 2015.
[4] L. Brotz, W. W. L. Cheung, K. Kleisner, E. Pakhomov, and D. Pauly, “Increasing jellyfish populations: Trends in Large Marine Ecosystems,” Hydrobiologia, vol. 690, no. 1, pp. 3–20, 2012.
[5] F. B. Sempre, O. Plaza, and N. Mediterraneo, “INSETTI , ALGHE E MEDUSE : IL CIBO DEL FUTURO ?” pp. 1–4, 2016.
[6] A. Leone, “Contributo per sito Expo2015 – A. Leone Nuovi Cibi: Meduse nel piatto (Jellyfish in the dish),” in Nuovi Cibi: Meduse nel piatto (Jellyfish in the dish).
[7] H. Ojaveer, M. Austen, D. Beare, M. David, P. Dominici, G. L. Kraus, J. Lockett, D. M. Paterson, J. Pinnegar, L. Pinol, L. Rodriguez, a. Sell, and S. Sastre Sanz, “VECTORS of Change in Oceans and Seas Marine Life, Impact on Economic Sectors,” Oceans, pp. 1–222, 2011.
[8] A. Leone, R. M. Lecci, M. Durante, F. Meli, and S. Piraino, “The bright side of gelatinous blooms: Nutraceutical value and antioxidant properties of three Mediterranean jellyfish (Scyphozoa),” Mar. Drugs, vol. 13, no. 8, pp. 4654–4681, 2015.
[9] N. Solano, “Meduse, le mangeremo anche noi in futuro? | Agrodolce,” Agrodolce.it, 2016. [Online]. Available: http://www.agrodolce.it/2016/05/30/meduse-in-cucina/. [Accessed: 19-Mar-2017].
[10] D. Pastore, “Ricerca Cnr Ispa di Lecce Dalle meduse la sfida alle cellule cancerose Buone anche in cucina – La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno,” Gazzetta Del Mezzogiorno, 2013. [Online]. Available: http://www.lagazzettadelmezzogiorno.it/news/home/458637/ricerca-cnr-ispa-di-lecce-dalle-meduse-la-sfida-alle-cellule-cancerose-buone-anche-in-cucina.html. [Accessed: 19-Mar-2017].

Jellyfish as food.

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