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What is a sea cucumber [Split from L.A. board]

Mr. Taster, what is a sea cucumber??? I'm very intrigued. Thanks.

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    1. re: tony michaels

      Thank you tony! Nothing like I imagined. What does it taste like? Is it considered a delicacy?

      1. re: Bite Me

        it's sort of like eating hard gelatin. i like it in brown sauce. i usually get it when i'm in a korean chinese restaurant.

        1. re: Bite Me

          Yes, it is considered a delicacy -- at least in Chinese cuisine.

          Quite expensive if you buy them live. Cheaper if bought dead/dehydrated.

          Usu. served braised with "gai cai" (a type of bitter Chinese green), also used in soups.

          By itself, it has very little taste.

          1. re: Bite Me

            Others have described the taste, (never have tried one personally). I have handled many of these little critters while skin and scuba diving and only once, (in Tahiti) did it hurl/squirt its sticky white innards all over me. After that I look at them but leave them where they lay.

            1. re: Bite Me

              It's definitely a delicacy, especially for Cantonese people. It doesn't have much of a taste, but a lot of Cantonese dishes emphasize the texture and uniqueness of the ingredients. The same is true of shark fin soup. The fin doesn't have much of a flavor, but it definitely has a texture that goes very well with the other ingredients. I don't personally like sea cucumber too much.

          2. In a Sichuan place I like, it is one of the three treasures in three treasures rice crisp. A nice contrast with the squid and chicken - plus the textures of the rice crisps.


            1. I swore to myself that I would never eat it,I m ean look at it...It looks like a giant worm and it pukes out its intestines (?) as a defense mechanism

              I ate it on accident in some ja jang myun at a local korean restaurant in maryland and I loved it

              1. tastes just like - tripe :-) at least the texture is in that category.

                1. It's a lot like jelly fish, if you've ever had that. I like sea cuke, but I love jellyfish.

                  1. On a snorkeling trip off the GBR, our guide handed me a leopard sea cucumber to hold in my bare hands. It was absolutely disgusting. Kind of like holding the world's largest loogie.

                    If somebody wanted to serve it without telling me what it was, I might eat it. But if I knew beforehand, no way. I wouldn't be able to get that memory out of my head.

                    1. All texture; no taste. Not very nice, I'd say, if you didn't grow up with it. I don't agree with the tripe analogy. Tripe can have a very strong taste along with its texture, and I've never heard tripe called a "delicacy".

                      What is a "delicacy" anyway? Something especially delicious seems implied, but something weird and/or nasty, and expensive, but eaten anyway because it is, um, a delicacy, seems to be the common use.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: embee

                        People are writing it has little taste and now you write that it has no taste. Not helpful for someone who has never tried sea cucumber.

                        By itself, it has a faint taste of the ocean and is somewhat similar to some seaweeds but not vegetal. The texture can vary from a slight rubbery crunchiness to soft and very slippery and even sticky depending on how it's prepared and the type (breed?) of sea cucumber.

                        1. re: embee

                          In Chinese cooking, anything coming from an animal that is gelatinous is regarded as a "delicacy" or "nutritious".

                          The four items considered the top in regular Cantonese cuisine (i.e. everday eating) are: abalone, sea cucumber, shark's fin, fish maw. The latter 3 are all gelatinous.

                          By the way in Chinese "sea cucumber" is call "ginseng of the sea".

                          1. re: Teep

                            Shark's fin and abalone are "everyday eating"? They were a tad expensive for everyday eating the last time I looked....

                        2. I think tripe is WAY chewier than sea cucumber. both taste great and therefore you should eat both.