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How to Choose, Soak, and Cook Dried Sea Cucumber

A compliation by Shaolong, Imperial Premium Seafood

What is a Sea Cucumber?

Sea cucumbers are marine animals. They live on sea floors throughout the world, but the greatest population is found in the Pacific Ocean. Most sea cucumbers resemble large worms or caterpillars and have soft, tubular bodies similar to a cucumber.

Sea cucumber is a popular ingredient in Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine. In addition to their culinary appeal, sea cucumbers are used in traditional folk medicine to treat a wide variety of ailments like arthritis, cancer, frequent urination, and impotence. Creams, tinctures, oils, and cosmetics infused with sea cucumber extract, as well as oral sea cucumber supplements, are also popular in traditional Chinese medicine.

Sea cucumbers are packed with nutrients. They’re low in calories and fat and high in protein, making them a weight-loss-friendly food. Sea cucumbers deliver an impressive amount of nutrients and beneficial compounds, including protein, antioxidants, and B vitamins

How to Select Dried Sea Cucumber?

When selecting dried sea cucumber, look for pieces that are plump, firm, and free from cracks or discoloration. The best quality sea cucumber will have a consistent color and texture throughout. Avoid any pieces that are mushy or have a fishy odor, as this may indicate spoilage.


What Does Sea Cucumber Taste Like?

They are usually being sold in a dried form and already pre-soaked form in certain Asian grocery shops that carry gourmet ingredients. Dried sea cucumber, also called HaiSom in Hokkien dialect, is rehydrated and added to recipes like soups, stews, and stir-fries

Once it is soaked, it will soften and be bouncy. The sea cucumber itself does not have any taste. The best part is, it will absorb whatever flavor or dish you cook them in. They have a slippery texture and bland taste, so they’re usually infused with flavor from other ingredients like meats, other seafood, or spices. They’re often combined with produce like Chinese cabbage, winter melon, and shiitake mushrooms

Soaking Dried Sea Cucumber

Before you can cook with dried sea cucumber, you'll need to rehydrate it by soaking it in water. The amount of time needed to soak dried sea cucumber can vary depending on the size and thickness of the pieces. As a general rule of thumb, you should soak dried sea cucumber for at least 5~7days before cooking.


How to soak Sea Cucumbers?


No.1 Soak

(Make sure container is oil-free.)

Add sea cucumbers in clean drinking water, keep in chiller for 48 hours.Change water every 12 hours till sea cucumbers become soft.


No.2 Clean

Cut open the abdominal area of the sea cucumbers. Remove the organs, sands and other foreign objects until the insides is clean with only meat.

No.3 Boil

Place sea cucumbers into a pot, add in enough water to cover entirely. Once it has boiled, change to small flame and continue for 30-35 minutes. If there are some sea cucumbers that are still hard, cook seperately for another 5-10 minutes. Once water has cooled down, remove the sea cucumbers.

No.4 Rest

Place sea cucumbers back in clean drinking water and continue to let it rest for 24 - 48 hours. Change water every 12 hours. (Change soaking and boiling timings accordingly as sea cucumbers comes in different sizes. Avoid oil during all process of preparation.)

Cooking Dried Sea Cucumber

Once you've soaked the dried sea cucumber, it's time to cook it. There are many ways to prepare sea cucumber, including braising, stir-frying, and boiling. Here's a simple recipe to get you started:



1 piece of rehydrated dried sea cucumber

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tablespoon of soy sauce

1 tablespoon of oyster sauce

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

1/2 cup of water



Cut the rehydrated dried sea cucumber into bite-sized pieces.

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the minced garlic and stir-fry until fragrant.

Add the sea cucumber and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes.

Add the soy sauce, oyster sauce, and water, and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the sea cucumber is tender.

Final Thoughts

Dried sea cucumber may seem intimidating at first, but with a little bit of practice, you'll be able to prepare this delicacy with ease. Remember to select high-quality sea cucumber, soak it thoroughly, and experiment with different cooking methods to find your favorite way to enjoy it.

Recipe Recommendation

Sea Cucumber Small Millet Porridge

1. Wash the small millet rice, then soak in clear water.

2. Prepare and wash some sea cucumbers and vegetables. Chop ginger and spring onion into shreds. Cut sea cucumbers into slices.

3. Boil a pot of water, once it is boiling add the small millet rice. Then add

in the sea cucumbers when the water starts boiling again. Stir from time to time.

4. Add in the ginger shreds, cover the pot and turn to small flame.

5. After around 25 minutes, stir and turn to big flame for 2 minutes. Lastly,

add in some salt, white pepper and a few drops of sesame oil to season

the dish. Top it off with spring onions and turn off the flame.

Braised Sea Cucumbers with Scallions

1. Prepare and wash the sea cucumbers. Cut into stripes and blanch in water.

2. Add some oil into a pan, fry some scallions until fragrant and keep for use later.

3. Add the sea cucumbers into the pan, salt, chicken essence seasoning, cooking wine, oyster sauce, light soy sauce, rock sugar and water. Then cover the lid and let it stew until sauce thickens.

4. Add in the previously fried scallions and continue to fry, lastly add in corn starch water to thicken the sauce.

Final thoughts

Sea cucumbers are interesting marine animals that have a variety of culinary and medicinal uses. They are a nutritious protein source that can be added to a number of delicious dishes. Sea cucumbers may also have a number of health benefits, but more research is needed before conclusions can be made. If you are feeling adventurous, try adding sea cucumber to your dishes in place of more traditional seafood.

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