While seasonal "blooms"—or increases in the number of jellyfish are not unusual—scientists have recently noticed a marked increase in the creatures in recent years. But there may be a way to help control the population, at least a little. We can eat them.
Of course, eating jellyfish is nothing new. In Asia, jellyfish are frequently cut into strips and dried, salted, and treated with alum over many months to create a kind of noodle, that's frequently combined with spices, vegetables, and other proteins to create a kind of noodle salad. However, eating jellyfish hasn't really taken off elsewhere. However, thanks to Pedersen's discovery, that could change.
According to NPR, it was "pure curiosity" that set Pedersen on this particular path. She began to consider jellyfish as a gel, instead of as an odd kind of fish, like many do. Using her physicist understanding of how gels react in different situation, she decided to play around with how jellyfish react to ethanol. She describes the process as "embarrassingly simple."
First, she submerges the jellyfish in 98% ethanol and lets it sit in the fridge for a couple days. Then, she pulls it out, and places the jellyfish on a baking sheet at room temperature so the alcohol can evaporate. What you're left with is a delicate, translucent, crunchy disk: a jellyfish chip. While she hasn't attempted this with lower concentrations of alcohol just yet, the possibility is there, and they'd impart other flavors. Think about it: mezcal-flavored jellyfish chips could be a bar snack of the future.
This sort of gastronomic innovation is already in line with the Scandinavian culinary trends restaurants like Noma most notably launched—namely a near magic usage of underutilized native flora and fauna. And Pedersen already has one extremely excited taker: the Danish chef Klavs Styrbæk. He told NPR he already has ideas about how he'd use jellyfish chips: "English gin with cucumber flavor — that's what I'd grab right away, because cucumber and jellyfish are so delicious together. The salt and the freshness of the cucumber ...."
It may take awhile for jellyfish chips to hit your plate, but when they do, it sounds like we—and ocean populations everywhere—will be in for a treat.