Thursday, February 25, 2010

Braised sea cucumber

Sea cucumber

Sea cucumber, the king of seafoods. Unfortunately, it is rarely available fresh - what we can find are dried sea cucumbers, fully intact. There's an arduous process related to its preparation, from soaking it in mineral water for a week, to cleaning it, to cooking it in a pressure cooker - and that's just the steps required to get it ready for the actual dish! After about 2 weeks of prep work, the sea cucumbers have swollen to nearly 5 times the size of their dried state, and have become soft and tender.

I love this dish. It's almost like comfort food to me. Simply prepared, but key is the ingredients. And I can only enjoy it about 2 months of the year, when bamboo is in season. Sea cucumber quickly fried in oil, with ginger and green onion. Fresh chicken broth added in, along with your sliced bamboo shoots. Then, simmer down on low heat, finish with dried shrimp roe. The soft texture of the sea cucumber, contrasted with the crispness of the bamboo - the subtle marine flavours of the sea cucumber and the lingering freshness of the bamboo. Food for the immortals.

DF

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