When the weather turns hot, my mind turns to jellyfish salad. The hot and spicy Vietnamese summer concoction is also known on Houston-area Vietnamese restaurant menus as "Seafood Delight" or "Summer Delight." It contains crunchy jellyfish, cucumbers, onions and greens. Other seafood might include shrimp, surimi, mussels, squid or fish balls. It's all tossed with a lime juice-and-fish sauce salad dressing made with lots of crushed chile pepper. The aroma of this dressing reminds me of Magik Markers.
The version of jellyfish salad served at Que Huong at the corner of Beechnut and Wilcrest is topped with crunchy fried onions that might remind you of the Durkee canned variety. An extra bowl of the pungent fish sauce dressing is served on the side along with a basket of crispy shrimp chips. I like to load up a shrimp chip with seafood and eat it like a Vietnamese jellyfish nacho.
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I had my first jellyfish salad of the season the other day at Que Huong. While the waiter delivered my salad, he challenged me to broaden my horizons. "Have you ever had the beef and shrimp watercress salad?" he asked, pointing to another item on the menu. " I think it's a better salad than this one." Evidently the beef and shrimp salad comes with two kinds of dressing. One of them is a stronger fish sauce that Vietnamese people love. I promise to sample it next time and file a full report.