Sea Cucumber

Sea cucumber is a highly valued seafood product in Chinese cuisine. Rich in collagen and having zero cholesterol, people of all ages enjoy eating this exotic dish. Sea cucumber does not carry any flavour nor taste, instead, it readily absorbs the taste and smell of the broth and ingredients it is cooked with. Preparation of this ingredient is tedious but extremely rewarding when done correctly.

You can find pre-soaked sea cucumber in the market. However, exercise caution when purchasing from unfamiliar vendors as they may add chemicals to enhance the size of the sea cucumbers. Furthermore, such sea cucumbers may shrink or dissolve during the process of cooking. Hence, to ensure that you get to enjoy 100% natural sea cucumber, spend some effort and time to pick up the skill of soaking them.

The art of soaking

The soaking process can be used for all kinds of sea cucumbers. Duration varies according to the thickness of the sea cucumber (this will be explained in details in the later part of this article).

Things you will need:

  1. A clean pot with lid (diameter should be as large as possible, so as to not hinder the growth of the sea cucumber)
  2. Knife
  3. Metal spoon
  4. Clean supply of water (tap water)

Step 1: Submerge dried sea cucumber in a basin of water. Leave it to soak overnight.

Step 2: Change a new supply of water, bring the water to boil in a pot, turn off the flame when the water boils.

Step 3: Quickly place the sea cucumber into the pot and close the pot with the lid. Let it soak. Avoid opening the lid while the water is still warm.

Step 4: When the water has cooled, with clean hands, touch and feel the texture of the sea cucumber. This process will allow you to have a rough idea of how tough the sea cucumber is.

Step 5: Depending on the type of sea cucumbers you purchase, slit open the flat side of the sea cucumber with a knife as soon as the toughness of the sea cucumber allows you to cut through. Some sea cucumbers are already dissected when you first purchase them. After opening the sea cucumber, clear the contents of the sea cucumber's stomach with a metal spoon. Scrape and remove all sand, seaweed, intestine, and any impurities found in the sea cucumber.

Every morning repeat step 2 - 4 until the sea cucumber expands to a satisfactory length. Do not over soak the sea cucumber or it will loose all its bouncy texture, you will risk ending up with soggy sea cucumbers!

LBN Tip: Remember to clean the inside of the sea cucumbers as soon as possible. Delaying the cleaning process might cause the sea cucumber to turn smelly! Another reason why sea cucumbers turn smelly may be due to the water. Always use clean water to soak your sea cucumber, do not use overnight water.

Storage

For soaked sea cucumbers, tie them up in a clean plastic bag and store in the freezer, When thawing, do not hasten the process by submerging the sea cucumbers in water, this will cause holes to appear on the surface of the sea cucumbers.

For dried sea cucumbers, you should be able to store the sea cucumbers in a cool, dry place. However, some sea cucumbers might carry moisture that will compromise their quality when storing for a long period of time.

LBN Tip: Choose sea cucumber that feels like a piece of rock! It's economical and good for storage.

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