Jelly Fish Salad
One of our favourite Chinese cold dishes is Jellyfish Salad. Haizhe or Haizhetou as its called on most Chinese menus. The salad usually comes accompanied with golden needle mushrooms (Jinzhengu), Soya Sauce, rice vinegar and topped with fresh coriander and a pinch of MSG. Some variations add sesame oil and cucumber. Sichuan Restaurants tend to liberally lace the salad with fiery chillies. Yum!
Jellyfish salad is a fantastic way to start a meal. The crisp and crunchy texture of the jellyfish contrasts with the much softer texture of the mushrooms. At the same time it absorbs and is enhanced by the strong flavours of the soya sauce, sesame oil and vinegar. To wash it down I’d recommend an ice cold (bingzhen) Snow, Yanjing or Qingdao beer as the perfect accompaniment for this dish.
Depending on where, and sometimes when, the jelly fish can either be dark brown and served in chunky pieces or it can be transparent and cut up into thin strips. The Rhipolema esculenta is the most common edible type. The good news for those with withdrawal symptoms, like myself, edible jellyfish can now be found in many Chinese grocery stores in most major cities around the world. Unless it is already precooked and packed, (often the transparent variety), you usually have to soak it before use.
Living Madrid we are lucky enough to have a number of Chinese restaurants that serve a pretty decent jellyfish salad. My Chinese friends told me that the Chinese have been exploiting jellyfish for more than 1700 years and swear that it has medicinal properties. Especially for the bones they claim. I only know that it is delicious.
See Photo below