Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Jelly Fish With Thai Basil

Andrew Zimmern's new Season of his Round the World Bizarre Food eating just got better! I think he has almost covered all the bizarre items and ingredients in most cultures and I find it most exciting everytime he goes to Asia. I laughed when he couldn't take Durians, the 1000 year old fermented egg and of all things, Walnut pastries! Those I find it Nothing compared to his more outrageous takes on Balut, the duck egg complete with underdeveloped embryo complete with baby feathers, the pounding heart of a frog and raw meat. Before his show started, most of the Western world find this idea of eating outside their conventional food and cooking simply abhorrent. There are plenty of food and travel shows on TV and most have not much substance nor interesting enough and in my opinion both Andrew Zimmern and Tony Bourdain have really revolutionized the idea of food and travel in the American people.

I am on the mild side about tasting bizarre food types. As long as they are cooked properly and without any heads attached, not bloody and not nightmarish looking, I can eat it. I can take very strong smell and now even very spicy if I dare. There are a few ingredients in the Chinese cooking that uses some unconventional ingredients and I would like to attempt all of them one day.

Jelly fish cooked into a salad and appetizer is ubiquitous in China, Japan and Korea. Mostly served together with other types of appetizer in larger plates or as a side dish, jelly fish is simply mixed with some dressing and garnished with toasted sesame seeds and sometimes even dressed with creamy dressing like mayo and mustard and most of the time served cold. The texture is both crunchy and slimy and by itself presents no taste at all except the briny sea smell. It is advisable to cook the jelly fish prior to preparing it with the dressing since it is highly preserved in salt and has a long shelf life. They come in small packages of a big slice of the jelly fish body or readily shredded slices. For the one piece kind, although they might look hefty in their packaging, they are not alot and buying more than 1 packet at a time is recommended. I bought one packet that weighed almost 400g but after soaking, washing and shredding, it only yielded about 2 cups worth of jelly fish and I can easily finish it on my own! Just increase the other ingredients proportionately with the quantity of the jelly fish.


Recipe

Ingredients
1 pack of Jelly Fish (preserved), about 400g.
1 red Shallot, sliced
6 Thai Basil leaves, julienned
75ml Rice Vinegar
1 Tbsp Sesame Oil
1/2 tsp Sugar
1 Tbsp Light Soy Sauce
pinch of salt
1/2 tbsp white sesame Seeds, toasted

Method
1. Remove the jelly fish from the package and wash under running water a few times. Cut and shred into thin slices with a knife.
2. Soak the shreds in a bowl of water for 2 hours, changing the water every 30 mins.
3. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Put in the jelly fish and let it cook for about 7 mins.
4. Remove and drain in a colander.
5. Heat the Rice Vinegar & Sugar in a sauce pan. When comes to a rolling boil, add in the sliced shallot and julienned Thai Basil. Stir for 1 min.
6. Add in the Soy Sauce and Sesame oil. Stir to rolling boil for 2 mins.
7. Place the jelly fish in a glass container or bowl. Pour the rice vinegar mixture into the container and using a chopstick, mix in thoroughly into the jelly fish. Mix for about 1 min. Taste, if needed sprinkle in some salt.
8. Let the contents chill in the fridge for more than 2 hours.
9. When ready to serve, plate up and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

Serves: 2 person as small appetizer

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