Thursday, 21 July 2011

How to Select and Purchase Sea Cucumber?

How to select dried sea cucumber?
The quality of a Dried Sea Cucumber can very from batch to batch and even within the same batch of goods.  Sea Cucumber are harvested from the sea, either close to shore or by trawling boats further out to sea.
The sea cucumber is then processed and dried to endure the transportation to the local shops ready for sale.  Buyers will then have to process it further to make it ready for the cooking pot.

When you are selecting sea cucumber, go through the following steps,

  1. Use your nose; does it smell rotten, or just a salty fishy smell?  For the bigger species, if there is a rotten smell, it is due to the poor processing during harvesting.  The 'intestines' may not have been cleaned out properly, or it is not dried enough.  Some sea cucumber from areas where there is a high rainfall are smoked dried.  This give them a smoky aroma but may compromise the final quality before cooking, and unnecessarily give it a darker colour.  Normally, a slightly fishy-salty is acceptable.  
  2. Use your hand;  Feels the dried sea cucumber.  Is it soft like' rubber', or hard as a rock, or in between.  Of course different species have a different feel.  Generally, choose those that are between hard rock and 'rubber'.  Too soft and it becomes literally 'too soft' on the first boil or even melt away.  Too hard, and you may end up with having to repeatedly boil the sea cucumber when you are preparing it for cooking.  Also may end up with a tough as nails texture on the dinner plate. 
  3. If the sea cucumber is coated with a hard white 'calcium' , it makes it harder to clean. 
  4. If there is too much salt crystal , avoid it, especially if you do not intend to prepare all of what you buy.  Salt can absord moisture and cause the flesh of the sea cucumber to rot during storage.
  5. Choose the correct specie for your dish.  The general rule is
    • Stew: Sandfish / Teat Fish / Prickly Red / Surf Fish (Yellow and Red) 
    • Soup : Sand Fish/ Disco Fish / Surf Fish
    • Stir Fry :  Disco Fish / Sand Fish
      • I avoid a specie called "Elephant Trunk" as it can have a rather bitter taste as well as give some people a allergic reaction.  Consequently, it is one of the cheapest sea cucumber you can buy.
    • If you find the above too difficult, bu it frozen (ready to cook).  Just leave it in basin of clean water for a few hours and it should be ready to cook. However, be warned, some processed sea cucumber  in the wet markets literally dissolve during the cooking and some smell of chemical used during the processing.  If you find a good source, keep to it.  Or recommend it to me!!  
    I will add some pictures later.  Next Blog: How to process the dried Sea Cucumber.

    10 comments:

    1. Can you get in contact with me on my e-mail? jajakout99@yahoo.com.
      I could really use your help.

      best, jake

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. Hi Jake,
        I have been busy away from this blog.....did I reply you ? If not, how can I help?

        Delete
    2. Hi Bloomington

      Came across your blog about sea cucumber. You
      are very knowledgeable!
      Really curious about cooking it but don't know how.

      How to improve the tasteless bite?
      Could you kindly advice how to go about cooking soup with it?
      Thanks a million!

      Tanto
      email : tantom88@gmail.com

      ReplyDelete
    3. Hello dear Bloomington
      can you help me about how we clean and dry sea cucumber
      i have try but after cooking looks like rotten
      my email eternel@hol.gr
      anestis
      thank u in advance

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. Hi Joao
        Can you describe the steps of your processing of the fresh seacucumber from collection to drying?
        Like how many times do you boil and what type of water is used.....SEA water or fresh water. How long is your boil? I see how I can help.

        Delete
      2. Hi Joao
        Can you describe the steps of your processing of the fresh seacucumber from collection to drying?
        Like how many times do you boil and what type of water is used.....SEA water or fresh water. How long is your boil? I see how I can help.

        Delete
    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

      ReplyDelete
    5. Dear Bloomington,
      I'm a woman diver in Turkey.I harvest from Mediterrenean sea.When I boil and dry sea cucumber its coated calcium.How can I remove calcium from sea cucumber?Please help me...my email:ceylancaglayan@yahoo.com

      ReplyDelete
    6. Hi, could you give me some advice in terms of conservation? Please, contact me at ppo1992 at gmail dot com

      ReplyDelete
    7. wihh nice info
      kunjung balik, di web kami banyak penawaran dan tips tentang kesehatan

      Golden Gamat

      ReplyDelete