This is Day to Day from NPR News. I'm Alex Cohen. A news item you might have missed last week. In northern Japan, seven men became gravely ill after eating blowfish testicles. It might not sound like a delicacy to you, but it is in Japan. Jellyfish does not enjoy the same sort of popularity there, but one man has been trying to change that. My colleague, Madeleine Brand, had the chance to meet him a few years ago while reporting for NPR's Climate Connection series. Today, we hear her piece from October of 2007 once again. Back then, she spoke with Alex Chadwick about jellyfish as cuisine. Let's just say, Mr. Chadwick was a little wary.

(Soundbite of NPR's Day to Day, October 3, 2007)


MADELEINE BRAND: Ugh indeed. Yes, this guy is actually being helped by climate change. It seems that warmer temperatures and more pollution in the oceans are leading to lots more jellyfish, especially around Japan, where global warming has shifted ocean currents, bringing in more jellyfish.

CHADWICK: Well, I've read enough of the science. The warmer waters mean a great spurt in the growth of the food that the jellyfish eat, so more jellyfish.

BRAND: More jellyfish and bigger jellyfish; some of them are growing as big as washing machines. And when that happens, they get caught up in the fishing nets and literally crush the other fish.

CHADWICK: Bad, bad for the fish, but maybe good for this jellyfish broker you met?

BRAND: That's right. And this is actually what he calls himself.

Mr. KANEO FUKUDA (Jellyfish Broker): My nickname is Jellyfish Fukuda.

BRAND: Jellyfish Fukuda. His real name is Kaneo Fukuda. He's trying to get us all to love us some jellyfish. I met him with our translator, journalist Tim Horniak(ph), one night in Yokohama. That's a city near Tokyo with a big Chinatown. And you know, Alex, the Chinese have been eating jellyfish forever. So, we decided to sample some at a Chinese restaurant in Yokohama.

(Soundbite of restaurant)

BRAND: OK, we're now at the restaurant. Before we eat the jellyfish, we're going to go to the kitchen to see how the chef prepares it.

Mr. TIM HORNIAK (Journalist, Translator): This is Chef Saito(ph).

Chef SAITO: (Japanese spoken).

BRAND: Chef Saito, OK.

Chef SAITO: Yes.

BRAND: The chefs now brought out two bowls. One bowl...

Chef SAITO: (Japanese spoken).

Mr. HORNIAK: This is jellyfish that has been processed. These are wide, thin sheets. They're kind of yellow, wrinkly and semitransparent.

Chef SAITO: (Japanese spoken).

Mr. HORNIAK: Please touch it.

BRAND: Touch it? OK.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Chef SAITO: (Japanese spoken).

Mr. HORNIAK: Smell it.

BRAND: Smell it? Oh, OK. It smells like old cheese, and it feels like skin, rubbery, thick skin.

Mr. HORNIAK: Fukuda-san says this is the smell of jellyfish.

BRAND: Oh, it smells like old cheese?

Mr. HORNIAK: (Japanese spoken).

Chef SAITO: (Japanese spoken).


Mr. HORNIAK: Yes, old cheese.

Chef SAITO: (Japanese spoken).

Mr. HORNIAK: First, we cut it.

BRAND: So, he's putting these pieces of jellyfish, the pieces that look like rubbery parchment or skin, onto a cutting board. So, these are about, oh, a quarter of an inch wide and maybe four inches long strips of jellyfish he's cutting with his cleaver...

(Soundbite of slicing)

BRAND: Throwing them into a bowl.

Chef SAITO: (Japanese spoken).

Mr. HORNIAK: OK. Well, first, we boil it in water, and then we leave it in the water for about two days, and it becomes like this. In this plastic bowl here, looks a bit different from the jellyfish that's been cut up. It looks like more rounded, maybe.

BRAND: It looks like worms.

(Soundbite of laughter)


BRAND: Looks like worms.

Chef SAITO: (Japanese spoken).

Mr. HORNIAK: This is how we boil the cut-up jellyfish.

BRAND: Yes. Come this way? OK.

(Soundbite of boiling water)

Mr. HORNIAK: Yeah, this is some serious fireworks happening here.

BRAND: Oh, my God!

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. HORNIAK: We're right in front of the stove in the Chinese restaurant.

BRAND: So, he's put all this water into the wok, and it's boiling fiercely.

Chef SAITO: (Japanese spoken).

BRAND: And then, he just puts the jellyfish into this rapidly boiling water. Wow. And so within seconds, it's done. It's cooked.

Chef SAITO: (Japanese spoken).

Mr. HORNIAK: If you leave it in water for a day or two, it becomes softer.

BRAND: Can I touch it?

Chef SAITO: (Japanese spoken).

BRAND: Ow. Whoa, that's hot. It's hot, and it's rubbery, yeah, and it shrunk, yeah. So, I guess this jellyfish, then, will sit in water for a few days to soften up.

(Soundbite of people talking)

BRAND: Right, cheers.

Mr. HORNIAK: To your jellyfish.

Chef SAITO: (Japanese spoken).

(Soundbite of clinking glasses)

(Soundbite of laughter)

BRAND: To jellyfish.

Mr. HORNIAK: OK. So, we have just to come down from the kitchen upstairs, and we're seated at our round table.

BRAND: So, here are the jellyfish that we saw upstairs, and they've been seasoned.

Chef SAITO: (Japanese spoken).

Mr. HORNIAK: You chew it. If it's chewy, it's good jellyfish.

BRAND: OK. Mm. Not bad.

(Soundbite of chewing)

Mr. HORNIAK: (Japanese spoken).

BRAND: Crunchy, very crunchy.

Mr. HORNIAK: (Japanese spoken).

Chef SAITO: (Japanese spoken).

BRAND: You know, I really could be eating anything, a bamboo shoot or some kind of radish, maybe, flavored nicely with sesame oil and salt, the future of our cuisine right here on my chopstick.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. HORNIAK: We're all going to be eating this around the world.

BRAND: I know. No more fish. Say hello to the giant jellyfish dangling from my chopsticks.

Mr. FUKUDA: Last year, September, we go to China.

Mr. HORNIAK: They went to China last September, OK.

Mr. FUKUDA: To catch jellyfish.

Mr. HORNIAK: To catch jellyfish?

BRAND: You went on the boat?

Mr. FUKUDA: (Japanese spoken).

Mr. HORNIAK: That's kind of scary.

BRAND: Oh, pictures.

Mr. FUKUDA: (Japanese spoken).

Mr. HORNIAK: Photos from that, that's good.

BRAND: Pictures of the jellyfish.

Mr. HORNIAK: It looks like they're pulling something out of the water, and this one, wow.

BRAND: Oh, my gosh! Look at that thing. It looks like a giant beach ball.

Mr. FUKUDA: (Japanese spoken).

Mr. HORNIAK: Oh, this photograph shows how giant jellyfish has been consumed in China for a long time, raw and served in a kind of soup. And Fukuda-san would like to popularize this form of jellyfish cuisine in Japan, served raw, because if he does manage to do that, this will help out a lot of the fishermen, Japanese fishermen, in the Sea of Japan whose nets are being flooded by a deluge of giant jellyfish. You know, they'll be able to harvest these creatures as something they can sell in Japan if this becomes popular.

BRAND: How big a problem is it for Japanese fishermen, these giant jellyfish?

Mr. HORNIAK: (Japanese spoken).

Mr. FUKUDA: (Japanese spoken).

Mr. HORNIAK: Of course, it's a really big problem for the fishermen on the Sea of Japan because these giant jellyfish get into the nets and you can't get any more fish; you know, the fish die in the folds of these jellyfish.

Mr. FUKUDA: (Japanese spoken).

Mr. HORNIAK: It's become so that these fishermen aren't able to fish, really. You know, they're just pulling up all these jellyfish all the time.

BRAND: And yet, it's a good thing for you because you have made it a business opportunity.

Mr. FUKUDA: (Japanese spoken).

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. HORNIAK: That's right. It is a good chance for me, even though it's an environmental problem.

Mr. FUKUDA: (Japanese spoken).

Mr. HORNIAK: I'm creating jellyfish makeup and skin products, which are very good for ladies with dry skin.

BRAND: I'm looking at a picture of his - he has made an alcoholic drink, vodka, soda water and jellyfish. What is it - what is your drink called? Does it have a name?

Mr. HORNIAK: (Japanese spoken).

Mr. FUKUDA: jellyfish sour.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BRAND: A jellyfish sour?

Mr. FUKUDA: Yes, yes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BRAND: Mmmm. So, what are those things floating in it? So, it's bits of jellyfish...

Mr. FUKUDA: Jellyfish.

Mr. HORNIAK: There's jellyfish in...

Mr. FUKUDA: American jellyfish.

Mr. HORNIAK: American jellyfish.

Mr. FUKUDA: (Japanese spoken).

Mr. HORNIAK: I'm making a lot of different dishes with jellyfish.

BRAND: What about jellyfish cake?

Mr. HORNIAK: Jellyfish cake? (Japanese spoken).

Mr. FUKUDA: (Japanese spoken).

Mr. HORNIAK: I'm making it, yes, indeed.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. HORNIAK: Of course, I'm making that.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. FUKUDA: (Japanese spoken).

Mr. HORNIAK: I'll show you.

BRAND: Oh, and you have a picture of some jellyfish cake.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BRAND: So, Alex, that is Jellyfish Fukuda. And if global warming continues, if Jellyfish Fukuda is successful, we could all be eating jellyfish cake and a lot of other delicious jellyfish dishes.

(Soundbite of music)

COHEN: Peanut butter and jellyfish sandwiches, anyone? Maybe not. Stay with us. NPR's Day to Day continues.

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