Soft matter physics meets the culinary arts: From polymers to jellyfish

Mie Thorborg Pedersen*, Thomas A. Vilgis


Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


This paper revisits the preparation of jellyfish as food from a soft matter physics point of view. Jellyfish is an example of a “living gel”, which can be transformed into edible matter with textures unlike any other food matter. In contrast to most food, jellyfish cannot be cooked in classical ways by increasing the temperature, or by preservation using combinations of table salt, sugar and acids. These cooking methods result in a complete disintegration of the jellyfish. Instead, when jellyfish is prepared as food, the gel first needs to undergo a number of physical transformations in order to keep its structural integrity. In this paper, we specify two fundamentally different ways of preparing jellyfish. First, the traditional Asian method, which involves adding a mixture of special salts to give the jellyfish a crunchy texture. Secondly, a novel method where jellyfish are immersed in ethanol inducing a partial gel collapse, which later enables the creation of a crispy texture via a glass transition. Interestingly, both preparation methods rely on specific changes of the physical properties of the jellyfish gel. To explain this, we introduce soft matter physics and polymer science and give insights into the molecular origin of the jellyfish gel and discuss the scientific concepts of jellyfish preparations. By doing so, we show that the application of scientific concepts to cooking and gastronomy can help to evolve both the field of science and gastronomy.
TidsskriftInternational Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science
Antal sider9
StatusUdgivet - jul. 2019


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