Recipe: Braised Sea Cucumber with Pork Belly
Growing up, my grandfather has been cooking braised sea cucumber with pork belly during special occasions. Because I eat it so often, I take it for granted. It is until now when I really sit down to enjoy this dish, then I realized how much effort he puts in.
If you are wondering what is sea cucumber, here is the explanation from Wikipedia:
“Sea cucumbers are marine animals with a leathery skin and an elongated body containing a single, branched gonad. Sea cucumbers are found on the sea floor worldwide. There are a number of holothurian species and genera, many of which are targeted for human consumption. They are usually being sold in a dried form and already pre-soaked form in certain Asian grocery shops that carry gourmet ingredients.”
Each sea cucumber comes in different sizes and grades, a medium grade one costs about $60-$80. The preparation itself is very torturous. There is no short cut to it. You just have to buy the dried form and soak it till soft. I wouldn’t recommend buying the pre soaked ones as they have been treated with chemicals to make them bigger. And when you cook it, it may shrink.
Here I share with you my grandfather’s recipe of Braised Sea Cucumber with Pork Belly. If you decided to prepare this dish, you have to use pork belly. The fat in this cut makes this dish sing.
Ingredients: (for 6)
2 medium-sized sea cucumbers
1 lbs belly pork, cut into bite-sized pieces
5 cloves garlic, unpeeled and lightly pounded
6 dried shitake mushrooms, soaked and cut into halves
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp light soy sauce
3 slices ginger
2 tbsp of cooking oil
500ml of water
1 stick cinnamon (optional)
2 star anise (optional)
How to prepare the sea cucumber?
1. Soak the sea cucumber for more than 24 hours. Make sure the sea cucumbers are completely covered in the water.
2. Use a knife to scrap the inside part of the sea cucumber.
3. Boil the sea cucumber for about 1 hour in a big pot.
4. Once it is soft, throw away the boiling water and cut into desired size.
1. Blanch the pork belly in boiling water for a few minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. Heat up oil in the wok. Saute the ginger and garlic till fragrant.
3. Add in pork belly, sea cucumber and mushroom. Add the sauces and quick fry for 1-2 minutes.
4. Add water, cinnamon and star anise. Stir occasionally to coat the ingredients evenly. Bring to a boil.
5. Transfer to a pot. Cover and simmer for 1 hour till the pork belly and sea cucumber is tender. Serve hot.