The creepiest salad from Vietnam: raw red jellyfish

By Parsley, Kim Thuy   April 13, 2016 | 10:55 pm PT
You want to take a little adventure into most terrifying dishes of Vietnam? Something that makes you feel a little nervous everytime you put the food in your mouth? You feel bored with salad with beef, chicken and regular vegetables?

Then red jelleyfish rolls are the answer.

The appearance of the raw jellyfish and shrimp paste may make you hesitate to try at first, but its delicate combination of the aromas and flavors of the paste, copra, grilled tofu, cumquat and herbs will definitely make you go back for more.


Photo by Parsley

In Vietnam, there are two kinds of jellyfish: white and red. While the white jellyfish is quite popular and available all year round, the red variety can only be found in the mangrove forests of Hai Phong and Nam Dinh.

The red jellyfish does not have a very long shelf-life, so if you want to give it a try, only use it when it is in season, from March to July.The dish originated in Hai Phong but soon won the hearts of Hanoians.


Photo by

To make it edible, the red jellyfish has to undergo a complex preparation process.

First, it must be soaked in water together with the roots and bark of the bruguiera, a kind of mangrove tree, until it turns a deep red and the flesh becomes translucent and soft. 

Then the jellyfish needs be steeped in clean water with lemons and cumquats to add aroma and flavor.


Photo by

To complete the dish, you can add some herbs, tofu, copra and jellyfish on large perilla leaves (la tia to), roll it, and dip it in fermented shrimp paste (mam tom).

The taste is light and cool, and when it is combined with the strong flavor of shrimp paste and the herbs and copra, it is truly a taste sensation.


Photo by

Diners in Hanoi can easily find red jellyfish rolls at food stores around Dong Xuan Market, Lo Duc, Hang Chieu (Cu Gai food store) and Thanh Ha.

A serving costs between VND25,000 ($1) and VND30,000($1.30), which is great value for such a well-prepared, elaborate and unique dish.

go to top