Sea cucumber (海参) don't usually comes up in my daily cooking menu except special occasions such as Chinese new year. The usual occasion when sea cucumber dish graces our tables is during wedding banquet (if we are lucky enough). For me, it sounds bothersome and time-consuming especially dealing with dried hard form sea cucumber, which it will turns unappealing with strong 'fishy' odor and tough-to-chew texture if not managed properly. Intimidated by the thought of this, I'd rather lay my hand off this Chinese revered sea dweller, for fear that I might unintentionally spoil the cozy jelly-like sea cucumber.
Guess what make me came out with this staple dish eventually? Okey, I should thanks to the availability of the processed sea cucumber (that have been pre-cleaned and pre-soaked) in Jusco deep-frozen section which catched our eyes when we browsed through departmental stores. I like sea cucumber and naturally it screams delicious to me. Considering the readily-processed sea cucumber could save me from extensive works without having to discard the inner guts, repetitive washing and boiling which could take place over several days, I snapped this up without having a second thought.
Prized for its gelatinous texture and slippery feel, sea cucumber which has a number of therapeutic values has been known to ease arthritis pain, relief joints discomfort and reputed to be a general tonic. Prominently used in Chinese cooking than other cuisines, sea cucumber can be cooked in many ways - braised abalone with sea cucumber and chinese mushroom, stewed with pork ribs, stir-fried with condiments or boiled in chicken stocks. Like tofu which is rather bland in taste, sea cucumber has the ability to absorb and accentuate the flavors of the ingredients it is cooked with. Hence, pairing with the right ingredients and seasonings to bring out its flavors whilst maintaining its succulent jelly-like texture become essential.
This quick and easy homecook recipe infuse sea cucumbers with distinctive licorice taste from star anise. The taste enhanced by simmering the dish under low flames for roughly 45 minutes.
1 tbsp oil
8 slices ginger
2 star anises (八角)
250g pre-soaked sea cucumber (浸发海参), cut into thick slices
300g spare ribs (排骨), cut into pieces
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
salt to taste
1. Heat up oil in a skillet, saute ginger and star anise until fragrant. Add in sea cucumber, spare ribs and mix well.
2. Add in seasoning and bring to boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes or until spare ribs are tender. Dish up and serve.
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