Jellyfish fishing in Asia is one of the highlights for many fishermen in the low season. Hold on…. Did you say jellyfish fishing ? Fishing for jellyfish ?? ! Yes. And they make noodles of it. Seriously. I have tried them and didn’t like them. But the process to get to these noodles is very interesting. And it all starts with fishing. Or better: scooping them out of the sea.
In the months July and August it the jelly season in some Asian countries like Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. The bays and shallow seas are full with large jellyfish. One can weight up to 10kgs and sometimes more. A fisherman gets between 30 and 70 THB (as in Thailand) for 1 jellyfish. So you see why it is one of the low season highlights. The fishermen can make some good money with scooping these giants out of the water.
From morning till evening they are busy getting these giants out of the water. These things can’t swim, they flow with the current and if the current is outgoing, then bye bye jellyfish. The fishermen fill their boats so full that they are at the point of sinking. I have seen some fishermen carrying upto a 100 jellyfish in one boat. The boats are so deep in the water that you wonder if they ever gonna make it to the mangroves where they drop off their loads. In Thailand the fishermen use small longtail boats, in Vietnam they use trawlers and in China they use even bigger boats. But in Vietnam and China the jellyfish are quite big. Up to 30kgs a piece ! Think of that: a 30kg jellyfish… try to get your mind around that.
In the mangroves, that is where it all happens for the small fishermen. It is proper teamwork. Everybody, family and friends, work together to get as much out of the season as possible. When the boats come in they unload the jellyfish in big makeshift pools from plastic sheet.
Some of them filled with tons of salt. In the first bath/pool they take of the tentacles. The head comes in the second bath filled with salt and alum. The purpose of doing this is to dehydrate and draining off the brine. The process is repeated multiple times. Finally the jellyfish are heaped to drain, turned several times and left to dry. And the smell…. !!! Man… ! I rather smell my feet after walking in wet shoes for 3 days ! It’s that bad !
After the tentacles are off, the heads dried and then they are cut into strings. From there it is packing them and transporting them to the factory who processes them to the final product: Noodles. In Asia is is quite normal to eat this kind of food. In China it is even delicacy food. 🙂
To me it tastes like plastic. I prefer rice noodles. But many asian people swear by these noodles. And now, there are various other jellyfish products like icecream for example. (In Japan available, i shit you not !).
These photos are made in Phang Nga Bay, Thailand. The photos above were made at Kho Kor Khao. I don’t have photos from China and Vietnam. Never made it there during the season.