Do you know what these are? These are dried sea cucumbers which my mum bought from Fujian, China during her recent holiday trip there. They don’t look appetizing at all, do they? They aren’t cheap though.
These dried sea cucumbers are hard as stones!
When I was very young, I had seen how my late grandma went through the lengthy and tedious steps in re-hydrating and cleaning the dried sea cucumbers before cooking them. I have not tried it out myself but when my mum offered four pieces to me, I readily and happily accepted them.
Well, if you are considering cooking sea cucumbers from the dried ones, I suggest you do not entertain this thought at all unless you have the patience and time to go through the process! It took me 9 days, and lots of “hard work” to complete the re-hydrating and cleaning process! No exaggeration at all.
I started the first step by placing the sea cucumbers in a pot of water and bring them to boil (photo above). I then left the sea cucumbers in the pot to re-hydrate. This step was repeated twice a day, changing the water each time to get rid of the bad smell. Yes, the sea cucumbers were extremely fishy! I also had to make sure that the pot and water were completely oil-free, or the cucumber will “rot”, according to my mum. Interesting huh…
By the fourth day, the sea cucumbers were soft enough for cleaning. The cleaning job was the most disgusting part. It was extremely tedious – lots of scrapping to remove the dirt on the surface and the internal of the sea cucumbers.
Internal of dried sea cucumber
Just look at the dirt on the knife!
These are not ready yet. I had to continue with the re-hydrating and cleaning process (scrapping away the dirt) for another 4-5 days before they were ready for cooking.
I was glad that I finally completed the process with much patience and care, as if I was rearing a pet, as DS teased me!
So how did I cook them?
I lightly stir-fried them with slices of ginger, black sauce, a little salt, sesame oil and brandy before transferring them to a pot to stew with cabbage, chicken, dried scallops and Japanese dried mushrooms.
Before adding sea cucumbers
Stir-frying sea cucumbers
Stewing the sea cucumbers and I then added some French beans to complete the cooking before serving.
That was a good try although the taste can still be improved. I was glad that all four of us (our friend, my younger sister, DS and I) nearly finished the whole pot of food, together with my salted vegetable duck soup, over dinner on Singapore’s National Day! 🙂
DS loves my salted vegetable duck soup but I seldom cook it because I don’t like to eat duck!
My friend said that I could also stew the sea cucumbers with duck. Perhaps I will give this a try with my remaining sea cucumbers and DS can eat most of the duck! 😀
Having gone through the tedious process, do I still want to put my hands on dried sea cucumbers in future? Definitely no, after I finished consuming all the four pieces given by my mum. My mum was so happy when I told her that the sea cucumbers were good. She wanted to give me more but I had to turn her down. I am glad that I have gone through yet another new experience in cooking but don’t think it is worth the effort and time at all. Furthermore, I also don’t have a strong liking for sea cucumbers. I don’t mind eating a piece or two once in a blue moon, but not more!