Monday, 25 July 2011

Processing Dried Sea Cucumber for Cooking

There have been many published methods on how to process a dried sea cucumber to make them ready for cooking.  The method I describe here has been used by my mom for many a years. It is generic for all types of sea cucumber and hopefully easy for you to follow.  You should expect a total increase of up to 3 times the initial dried weight after processing.  So please prepare sufficiently big pots for the process.  Remember that if you start off with good quality, it is easier to end with good quality.  

  1. Prepare one pot (Use a old/cheap pot for boiling) for boiling and 2 pots for cleaning (cheap aluminium/ stainless steel "555" types)
  2. Soak the sea cucumbers for a up to 3 hours in a container filled with clean oil free water.  Prefer to use filtered water.
  3. Heat filtered water in the cooking pot ( in medium fire) to a boil.  Place the sea cucumber in the cooking pot.  Boil for approximately 15-40 minutes.  The time depends on the size of the sea cucumber.  The smaller they are, the shorter the time.  
  4. Turn off the fire and let is soak over night.  You will see that the sea cucumber has already increased in size.  The outer skin may fall off and white "powder" dissolved into the water.
  5. Fill up the remaining 2 containers with filtered water.  Ensure there are no oil traces to contaminate the sea cucumber. 
  6. Transfer the sea cucumbers to the second pot.  Clean off the skin of the sea cucumber with a clean  brush.  Do not over-scrub. If it does not come off, do not force it, but be prepared to reboil.  Remove off the white "powder" that some species have .  If the the bottom is the sea cucumber is not open, slit it with a scissor.  Clean off the sand, inner lining of the cavity, and the intestines.
  7. Rinse off with some clean water and transfer to the third pot.  Let it soak over night, preferably in the fridge.
  8. Check the texture of the sea cucumber after the soaking.  If it is too tough, repeat step 3 to step 7. Play safe by shortening the time. Note : The tougher the flesh, the more likely the sea cucumber will require 2 to more cycles of boiling.
  9. Soak in filtered water and change the water every day.  Remove parts that seem "rotten".  The tough outer skin should be fully removed after the 3rd day.
  10. Within 5-7 days, you should see your valued sea cucumbers in full .
  11. Happy Dining!!
For Storage After Processing
  1. Drain the Sea Cucumber and place in a clean container or plastic bag.  Place in the freezer section.  
  2. Can store for a year.
  3. To cook, take it out and defrost in a clean container of filtered water.

Notes:
  • I prefer the use of filtered water as the sea cucumber is absorbing the water (Rehydrating).  Whatever is in the water goes into the final product.  Tap water in Singapore should be fine.....
  • Sea cucumbers are sea creatures....sometimes quality differ.  
  • If you see reddish marks on the dried sea cucumber, it is a sign of rot.  Process it immediately for cooking, or boil it and then dry in the sun for further storage (not recommended unless you know what you are doing)
  • Pineapple skins does not have an impact to final product quality. :)

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