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Are crispy, crunchy jellyfish chips the snack of the future?


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Despite PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi’s recent claim that women would prefer a less-audible Doritos, snack foods are often all about the crunch.

In pioneering work, Danish researchers may have created a viable treat option for the future – satisfyingly crispy jellyfish chips – according to a statement by the Biophysical Society.

Following the crunch of the first bite, the chips “disintegrate, leaving just a hint of the sea in the mouth,” Mathias P. Clausen, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Southern Denmark, tells Discover magazine.

Tentacle-free jellyfish are commonly brined for several weeks “to produce a crunchy, pickle-like texture,” the international scientific society explains in the statement. Clausen and a team of other Danish scientists have created a technique that achieves the same effect in a matter of days.

“Tasting jellyfish myself, I wanted to understand the transformation from a soft gel to this crunchy thing you eat,” Clausen says in the statement. “Using ethanol, we have created jellyfish chips that have a crispy texture and could be of potential gastronomic interest.”

Due to overfishing and climate change, many prime seafood species are under threat. Predators such as red tuna and sea turtles, which once fed on jellyfish, now have a diminishing presence in the world’s oceans.

Booming populations of jellyfish are becoming increasingly attractive to the fishing industry, “as a viable food source for the expanding global population,” the Biophysical Society says.

Jellyfish flesh is rich in iron, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium and vitamin B12, according to the researchers. At a mere 18 calories per 100-gram serving, one scientific paper reportedly touts jellies as “the ultimate modern diet food.”

In many parts of the world, including China and Japan, jellyfish is already a staple. According to the Smithsonian, “About a dozen jellyfish varieties with firm bells are considered desirable food.”

The tradition of dining on jellyfish goes back 1,000 years in China, the Smithsonian reports. In Japan, the government is reportedly pushing the use of jellyfish in cutting-edge sweets – caramels and ice cream – and cocktails.