Friday, July 8, 2011
"Have you ever cooked with jellyfish before?"
The clerk at Oceanic Market in Tampa was looking at me with such a goofy grin that for all intents and purposes, her question was rhetorical.
"Nope," I said with confidence in an effort to hide the fact that I was sort of weirded out by the prospect. "You?"
"No, I don't cook much," she admitted, almost embarrassed. "But I've had it before. It's crunchy."
So I now know at least that much about what I'm in for.
There are a lot of dishes in the book that are going to present some challenges, either to cook or to eat. I'm not looking forward to the calf's brain much. Or even any of the livers, really. But I'm not really worried about those. They'll be fine. May not be my thing, but they sound like food.
I just don't know that I feel the same way about jellyfish.
When I started this project, I made a list of the ingredients in the book that I wasn't sure where I was going to get so I could start researching. Tops on the list: salted jellyfish for this salad. It so happened that I was at Oceanic that week for something else, and I was looking at its selection of eggs, and I noticed right next to the eggs was a vat of weird looking blobs floating in water. I looked for the sign, which was buried under something else in the case. "Jellyfish $8.99/pound."
So, that was easier than I thought it would be.
The book says to rinse it off, and I rinsed it off for a good long time. Then it says to cut off the tentacles. Mine didn't seem to have any tentacles, at least not in the classic horror movie sense. Just to be sure, I cut off the area where I thought the tentacles may have once been. You can't be too sure. Here's what it looked like to that point.
Sort of like something you get as a souvenir after surgery. Moving on.
Then I sliced it into thin strips. The book says to slice it thin, but I sliced it thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin. I don't know. I wasn't getting more excited about this.
So, once the jellyfish is sliced, it's easy. Put it into a bowl with the greens, yellow teardrop tomatoes -- preferably that you grew yourself and harvested from the back yard -- olive oil, opal basil and sherry vinegar. It will look like this:
Then toss it and put it on top of a piece of toasted bread and take a photo.
And maybe a second photo …
Wait, the light was bad on that one. Try again …
Oh, damn shadow. Here's another …
Truth is, I took a lot of photos. Mostly because I knew that when I was done taking photos, I was technically going to have to eat it.
And if this post got picked up by a jellyfish Twitterbot, boy are they going to be disappointed in this next part.
Not my favorite dish in the book.
Funny thing was, as concerned as I was about the texture, the texture wasn't the problem. It was kind of cool, actually. The problem was that it was like eating straight salt. I tried getting more greens and tomato and bread in a bite to counteract the salt, but there was never enough.
But I feel better for having tried it.
Up next: tilefish