How to Prepare Dried Sea Cucumber

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Sea cucumbers, a saltwater echinoderm like starfish and sea urchins, are a prized ingredients in Chinese cuisine, on par with shark's fin, bird's nest and abalone. A rare delicacy, you don't come across fresh sea cucumbers often unless you harvest them yourself, but you can find the dried varieties in Asian markets and specialty foods stores. Dried sea cucumbers must be reconstituted. After they are restored to their spongy selves, thinly slice them and add them to stir fries or braise them in stock or sauce until tender.

Things You'll Need

  • Chicken or fish stock, dashi or Chinese supreme stock
  • Rinse the dried sea cucumbers under cool water and set them into the bottom of a pot. Cover them with 3 or 4 inches of boiling stock. Let the cucumbers reach room temperature and cover the pot.

  • Soak the sea cucumbers for 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator, until they feel spongy.

  • Change the stock each day. Drain the sea cucumbers and rinse them after they have nearly doubled in size.

  • Cut a lengthwise slit through the flat bottom of the sea cucumber and rinse the cavity with cold water. Clear any sand, using your fingers.

  • Slice the sea cucumbers into the desired-sized pieces -- 1/4-inch slices for stir fries and sauteing; 1/2- to 3/4-inch slices for braising.

  • Simmer the sea cucumbers in water with sliced ginger until they feel springy, about 30 to 45 minutes. Drain the cucumbers and pat them dry.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can leave the sea cucumbers whole, but slicing shortens the time it takes to tenderize them.

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References

  • Photo Credit xin wang/iStock/Getty Images
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