Thursday, April 23, 2009

Braised Sea Cucumber

The Chinese name for sea cucumber - hai shen - translates roughly into "sea ginseng." It's unclear whether this is in recognition of the sea cucumber's reputation as an aphrodisiac, or because it is considered to be quite healthful. It may also have something to do with its slippery feel, as the texture of food weights more heavily in Chinese cooking than other cuisines. In any event, the Chinese have been harvesting sea cucumbers for centuries.
In Chinese medicine, sea cucumber has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat everything from high blood pressure in humans to joint pain in pot-bellied pigs!

Sea cucumber is flavorless, but has the ability to soak up the flavors of foods and seasonings it is cooked with, like this braise recipe which has very flavorful ingredients. These pre-conditioned sea cucumber can be found in the freeze of most asian store here and after this recipe, would not buy them again as they were so soft and disintergrated as soon as it got heated up. I would buy the dried ones and will pre-condition/rehydrate them myself.

1/2 tbsp. rice wine
2 stalks green onions
4 slices ginger
2 cups water

1 piece dried squid
1 lb pre-conditioned sea cucumbers - cut into 2 - 2 1/2 inch pieces
1 lb belly pork - cut into bite-size pieces
6 large Chinese black mushrooms - soaked woth warm water and discard stems
1/2 cup of chopped onion
6 slices ginger,
1 tsp. Shaoxing hua tiau rice wine
1/2 tsp. sesame oil

1 tbsp ground mein se/tau cheong
3 tbsps. soy sauce
1 tsp. sugar
3/4 cup stock

1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. water

Heat wok or pan and add 1 tbsp. oil. Add mixture (A) and stir-fry until fragrant.
Add 2 cups water and heat to boil. Add prepared sea cucumbers, cook for 3 minutes, then remove from heat and drain. Set mixture aside.

Heat pan and add 3 tbsps oil until very hot. Add chopped onion, ginger, mein see/tau cheong and stir-fry until fragrant.

Add in belly pork, squid, black mushrooms, stock and the rest of the seasonings. Add water enough to cover the pork and bring to a boil and then simmer covered until pork is tender and until the liquid is almost half of original amount.
Add the sea cucumber and bring back to a boil.

Add mixture (B) to thicken and lastly the wine. Adjust taste with salt and sugar.
Sprinkle with sesame oil before serving.



Tuty said...

I like this dish a lot but haven't made it for so long since I will be the only one in the house who will eat it :-(

My mum would add thinly sliced bamboo shoots as well.

Thanks for sharing

Mary Bergfeld said...

I've never had sea cucumber. I've always been suspicious about its texture. If anyone could convince me to try it, it would be you. I promise I'll think about it :) Mary

sue said...

Wah..!salivating....Lily, your dish looks so appetizing...this is one of my favorite dish..thanks for sharing the recipe.


LilyAnette said...

Lily, How does the dry one looks like? I am always looking out for this ingredient but never seem to find it.

Simply June said...

This is #1 favorite dish! I love and miss this dish so much!! It's been a while since I last ate it being far away from home.. =( Every CNY at my grandpa's house a huge pot of this will be cooked to feed an extended family of about 30people for 2 days or so. And I will never get tired eating this at every meal!! Yums!!!

Unknown said...


yes, bamboo shoots are a good addition to this dish and so is carrot, it will give it some color

Unknown said...


the texture of sea cucumber is gelatine like but there is crunchy one depending on the variety. If you do not like the fatty part of the belly pork then you might not like sea cucumber. You can get the crunchy ones but with the pre-conditioned ones you have no choice. There were 2 types for me to choose from - i chose the white ones which i will not buy again, perhaps i should have gone for the black and bigger ones.

Unknown said...

lily anette

here are some images of dried sea cucumber

Anonymous said...

Hi: Is it possible to find out from you how you rehydrate the "dried sea cucumber"? is there a quick and less painful way from the traditional way of 'soaking many days in water' and scraping them day after days?


Unknown said...


i don't think i know of anyhow but this painful method.

Ong said...

Hi Aunty Lily, can I know what's the correct method to rehydrate the sea cucumber?

Unknown said...


i am glad i found this as this is how i will hydrate the sea cucumber, the most important is not to have any grease when handling the sea cucumber.

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