Really? Jellyfish?? Can you eat jellyfish? Yes, of course. Why not?..I don’t think it’s that different than eating squid..I am pretty sure that I tasted jellyfish even before I knew what it was. And don’t worry about the jellyfish poison, the tentacles are all removed before they are packaged.
If you eat the jellyfish without thinking about it, it is pretty darn good. It actually doesn’t have any strong flavor but has great texture; it’s a little bit chewy and a little bit crunchy. It’s kind of like chicken cartilage. I think it’s one of those things where you either love it or you don’t. My husband is not a jellyfish or cartilage guy but I love both!
If you can’t get jellyfish or you just don’t like it, omit the jellyfish. Cheonsachae (천사채) can be also be a great substitute because it has similar texture and not much of a particular flavor. Cheonsachae (Angle Noodle or Seaweed Noodle) are Korean half-transparent noodles made from the jelly-like extract left after steaming kombu, without the addition of grain flour or starch. (wikepedia). Both jellyfish and Seaweed Noodle are very low calorie food, so it’s also great for your diet!
Korean Jellyfish Salad (Haepari Naengchae) is an essential dish to any Korean party menu. Especially in the summer, served cold, it pairs wonderfully well with rich foods like Kalbi and other grilled meats, fried dishes like Yache Twigim and/or various Jeons like Beef and Perilla. You will agree with me that a respectable Korean banquet is never complete without Jeons!! Although I kind of think Jeons take a looong time to make and you end up with just one dish.
Anyway, jellyfish salad is also a great dish to prepare beforehand, keeping chilled in the fridge and you only need to assemble when the guests arrive. I LOVE dishes like that, don’t you? When preparing a party menu, it’s not a matter of how many dishes you have, it’s how they all work together.
Traditional Haepari Naengche only uses cucumber and jellyfish and only uses vinegar for the sour taste. But I have a beautiful Meyer Lemon tree in my back yard and I just love the freshness a lemon brings to the dish, so I added some lemon. And it came out even more delicious! Many newer recipes add more colorful vegetables like red bell peppers but I decided to add carrots as my twist to the dish. I think carrots add more substance and texture that can stand up to the jellyfish pretty well.
Servings: 4 Cooking Time: 1 hr (inactive 45 min) Difficulty: easy
- 6 oz (170 g) salted jelly fish (haepari)
- 1 english cucumber, julienned
- 2 small or 1 medium carrot, julienned
- 2 T rice vinegar
- 1 T sugar
- 1 T rice vinegar
- 1 T sugar
- 2 tsp dry oriental mustard + 1 T water
- 1 T meyer lemon (2 tsp regular lemon)
- 1 tsp salt
- Korean Jellyfish usually comes in a bag, heavily salted for preservation. Rinse jellyfish with water couple times to get rid of all the salt and let it soak in cold water for about 45 min.
- While the jellyfish is swimming in water, julienne cucumber. A technique that many Korean chefs use is to first peel away the outer skin and flesh part of the cucumber, omitting the seeded center.
It is called “dolyeo kkaki( 돌려깍기)” in Korean which means to shave in circular fashion. I am usually not a huge fan of fancy cutting techniques just for the sake of being fancy but this one has a purpose because it keeps only the very crunchy part of the cucumber.
- Julienne carrots into similar sizes. I used yellow and purple carrots here but you can use whatever carrot you like.
- I am using pre-cooked frozen shrimp here again. Just thaw and then halve the shrimps lengthwise.
You are welcome to use fresh shrimp if you’d like, just cook, peel and slice similarly.
- Make the oriental yellow mustard paste by mixing 2 tsp dry mustard powder with 1 T water.
Leave it alone for 4-5 min or more for the flavor to fully develop. If you’re too lazy to make the paste, use the yellow mustard tube but be prepared to use lot more of the paste because the flavors are just not as full bodied and strong as the powder.
- When the jellyfish has been in the water for over 40 min, boil some water (3 cups?). Rinse and drain jellyfish into a steel or silicone colander (because you will be scorching the jellyfish with boiling water). Pour boiling water onto the jellyfish evenly and they will shrivel up like this!
Be careful and DON’T COOK the jellyfish!! Just SHOCK it so that jellyfish (haepari) gets even more crunchy and less chewy. Some recipes use jellyfish without this step and it will still be OK but I think this really gives a better texture.
- Season jellyfish with 2 T vinegar and 1 T sugar and marinade for at least 10 min. You can leave in the fridge overnight and it will taste even better the next day. NOTE:: Sometimes jellyfish can smell a little bit. What to do if the jellyfish smells a little bad? Add some extra lemon or even add a bit of gingerale or sprite to the marinade to help get rid of any unwanted smell.
- Make dressing by mixing mustard, vinegar, sugar, lemon juice and salt and set aside.
- Serve chilled, either all the ingredients separately and mix with dressing at the table
or toss everything together and serve. Hope you enjoy it with your friends and family this summer! Let me know how you like it!!
Few more things..
So what are the purple flowers in the water bowl and also on top of the jellyfish salad (haepari naengchae)? It’s Starflower (aka Borage)! A new exciting discovery for me!! A great find at my local Whole Foods. They where selling this in a pot this spring, I brought it home and planted it. Did you know that these cute purple flowers are edible and taste like cucumbers?!! It’s actually eaten in salads and as tea in Mediterranean cuisine. So I added some Borage petals to my Haepari Naenchae for added cucumber flavor and for added prettiness. :))
- Prepare jellyfish and cucumber, carrots separately, a day ahead of any party.
- Additional ingredients to add – cooked egg strips (jidan), imitation crab meat.
- Add freshly chopped garlic on top and some red chili pepper oil for extra zing!