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sea cucumbers

I know you see them in various Chinese cuisines, but do other Asian countries also cook with them? What about beyond the Asian continent?

Just curious—I don't think I've ever had them before.

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  1. Yes, they are popular in Northern Japan, but largely unknown in other places in Japan.

    1. Koreans love sea cucumber sashimi. It's a VERY acquired taste IMHO, and requires the accompaniment of Soju.

      I also love the chinese braised preparations.

      2 Replies
      1. re: joonjoon

        Ah, well, requiring the accompaniment of soju is only a plus in my book.

        I saw it on a mostly Vietnamese menu in a hot pot with mushrooms and tofu, so I was wondering if they're used in Vietnam too—but a few Chinese dishes are sprinkled throughout so I'm guessing it's that then.

        1. In Japan, it is served as sunomono -- marinated in vinegar as a salad-like appetizer. It is called "namako" and people first cut the ends off, split it down the middle and gut it before marinating.
          Actually, I like it best in Chinese food.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Tripeler

            I never had Hoya, but would you say the texture is similar to sea cucumber?

            I like the Cantonese Chinese prep too, usually braised and served with greens and webbed goose feet.

          2. Several decades ago, when my second husband worked at Scripps Institute of Oceanography as a scuba diver on a deep sea wave research project, he used to "shop for dinner" on his way back in from the buoys. He regularly brought home such things as sea cucumber, sea snails, barnacles, keyhole limpets, turban snails, urchins, abalone, octopus and all sorts of other critters that most folks don't even know about, let alone eat. But it's been a while since the last time I cooked fresh sea cucumber. But in a word, YES! They are edible. Not quite as much work to clean as an abalone, but they do have to be cleaned and, as I recall, I skinned mine. They require braising or they're tough. I only tried to pound one once the way I pounded abalone to tenderize it, and never tried that trick again! They don't have a lot of flavor on their own, but lend themselves nicely to very subtle Japanese type soups, and they're also an interesting addition to seafood stews. I do recall using barnacles, sea cucumber, keyhole limpets and any sort of firm white fish in a quasi cioppino. I say quasi because I've never seen sea cucumbers in a San Francisco fish stew, let alone a barnacle. But you can find sea cucumbers in SF Chinatown restaurants. They just want an arm and a leg for them, but if you have a diver in the family, like abalone and a lot of other good stuff, they're free...!!!

            1 Reply
            1. re: Caroline1

              Thanks for sharing that neat story!

              I fondly remember watching the sea cucumber divers up in the San Juan islands. I had some sea cucumber, raw, fresh out of the water. I thought it was gross, but I was 14. ;-) I happened to be attending a Japanese/American marine biology summer camp at the time, and as I recall my Japanese friends really liked it.

            2. We were served a dish (I think soup) containing sea cucumber in Singapore.I thought it was vile stuff.