Dotted red jellyfish – a specialty of the early summer in Hai Phong

The red dotted jellyfish is a strange, refreshing food that usually only appears in the early summer from March to May.

Red jellyfish are sold a lot at street vendors or sidewalk eateries in Hanoi but originated in Hai Phong. Jellyfish to make this dish are usually only caught in the sea where there are mangrove forests such as tiger and mangrove.

Special dish of red jellyfish in Hai Phong.
Special dish of red jellyfish in Hai Phong.

The owner of a jellyfish processing facility in Do Son, Ms. Thanh Xuan (34 years old, from Hai Phong) said that the original fresh jellyfish from the sea is white. Live jellyfish have many toxins, concentrated in the tentacles. So before eating, the processor will soak or salt jellyfish in jars and jars to remove toxins.

In Do Son sea, people often salt jellyfish with parrot fruit juice, a plant that only lives in brackish coastal waters. The stages include dissecting the jellyfish, removing the slime, washing it, cutting it into small pieces and then soaking it with parrot juice for about 3-4 weeks. When the jellyfish turns color like betel nut, it can be eaten.

The red jellyfish dish is suddenly sold a lot in Hai Phong’s markets such as Cat Bi, An Da, and Co Dao markets. Among them, the shop of Mrs. Nguyen Kim Oanh (56 years old, Hai Phong) is located at 42 Tran Nhat Duat, Co Dao market area.

Open for more than 30 years, Ms. Oanh’s shop is a famous address in the city center. At the weekend, many food tour customers come to her restaurant to try the famous red jellyfish in the Port. The shop is open from 15:00 to 19:00 daily. At one time, the space of about 30 m2 in Mrs. Oanh’s house was not enough, so she had to ask the house opposite to arrange tables for guests to sit.

The front of Mrs. Oanh's shop on Tran Nhat Duat Street.
The front of Mrs. Oanh’s shop on Tran Nhat Duat Street.

Oanh’s jellyfish were taken directly from the Do Son sea. The secret to choosing a delicious jellyfish is that the flesh must be clear like jelly, soft and succulent. When sold, jellyfish are arranged in layers in small pots. You can squeeze a little more lemon or kumquat to give the jellyfish a light aroma.

To make the taste for red jellyfish, in addition to jellyfish meat, there is a special sauce that is suddenly. Suddenly cooked from tomatoes, garlic, chili, coconut milk, suddenly glutinous wine, tapioca. Ms. Oanh seasoned according to her own recipe to create a slightly dark yellow sauce with a thick consistency.

When guests order, Ms. Oanh takes jellyfish, cut into pieces about 3-4 cm, put on a plate, add pineapple and fresh copra. Suddenly scooped out into a bowl, sprinkled with roasted peanuts, and presented with a tray of accompanying leaves such as lettuce, perilla, apricot leaves, fig leaves, basil, serrated leaves. The right way to eat is to take the above leaves with jellyfish, copra and pineapple rolls, dip into a bowl that is still hot and then enjoy.

Jellyfish meat is crunchy, cool, sour and slightly sweet, when chewed, it makes a lumpy sound. Suddenly is a combination of all the sour, spicy, salty, sweet flavors. The combination of jellyfish meat with the fleshy taste of copra, mild bitterness and aroma of vegetables brings a unique taste.

Every day, Ms. Oanh’s shop sells an average of 30 kg of jellyfish. The price of a plate of red jellyfish is suddenly 40,000 VND. If purchased by weight will cost 150,000 VND.($1=24,000 VND)

Children can also enjoy the red jellyfish dip.
Children can also enjoy the red jellyfish dip.

Called a specialty, but this is a rather picky dish. Even for Hai Phong people, not everyone likes and can eat it. Some diners enjoying the food for the first time commented that the dish was quite strange, difficult to describe, because the feeling was neither raw nor cooked.

But there are many people who love this dish. Ms. Pham Thuy (38 years old, Hai Phong) has been a regular customer at Mrs. Oanh’s for many years. She visits the shop 3-4 times a week to buy jellyfish to make snacks for her family. She knew about the restaurant from her husband. Her husband has been eating here since unmarried, now they have a 16-year-old son.

Thuy said that a delicious jellyfish is the one with many legs, the most chewy and crunchy part of the jellyfish. The dipping sauce was suddenly cooked by Mrs. Oanh sweet and salty. The pickled jellyfish itself has a slight sour taste, if you don’t know how to prepare the seasoning, it will make the jellyfish sour and difficult to eat.

Red jellyfish is a dish that has a cooling effect in the summer. However, even if it has been soaked or salted to remove toxins, this dish can still cause allergies and poisoning in some cases. According to experts of the Food Safety Department of the Ministry of Health, people with poor resistance (who have just woken up, have physical weakness) or children under 8 years old, with an immature immune system should not eat this dish. .

For those who are new to eating for the first time, the experience to know if they are allergic to jellyfish is to try a small piece first, then wait about 10-15 minutes to see the body’s reaction. If there is no abnormal phenomenon, diners can enjoy it comfortably.