“From Black pudding to pickled jellyfish, beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. What we see and taste as beautiful depends largely on what our family and friends approve of -- with just a little room for personal preference.”
Laurence Mound, Keeper of Entomology, British Museum, Natural History - Introduction to 1988 reprint of 'Why Not Eat Insects' by Vincent M. Holt (1885)
Pickled Jellyfish is a delicacy in Asian (specifically Chinese and Japanese) cuisine. In nicer (read: highly priced) restaurants it is served between courses along with lemoned water in order to cleanse the palate. Not for the lighthearted tourist, this food packs a salty, sour punch. I had the opportunity to try it in China a few years back, and while I enjoyed it (having a certain affinity for oral pain and suffering), the people I was traveling with certainly did not.
Pickled jellyfish is described best by its appearance. It looks similar at first to the pickled ginger (Gari) that you are served with sushi; pink and thinly sliced. Closer inspection reveals it to be translucent and rubbery, altogether a very non-chopstick-friendly food. The texture is perhaps expected: Infinitely chewy. Presumably this is the opportunity nature gives us to appreciate the saltiness of it all, but few ever learn to savor this particular gift.
In my humble opinion, despite the hype, the flavor is strong but rather unremarkable. It is actually similar to a cocktail of sea water and vinegar, as a pickle would taste if allowed to soak in its brine for too long. It is certainly alarming to the jellyfish neophyte. I find that it certainly works as advertised, restoring the sanctity of the palate no matter how offensive or persistent the flavor of the previous course may have been.
This is something, like opera, that you must experience at least once in order to live life completely.