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Braised Pork knuckles with Sea Cucumber - CNY


 The Sea Cucumber is a seabed dwelling marine animal which feeds on microscopic algae, absorbing nutrients from the organic matter.  This oblong shaped gelatinous creature resembles a cucumber, hence the name.  It's called 'haishen' in Mandarin which literally means 'ginseng of the sea'.  From the nutritional point of view, sea cucumber is an ideal tonic food, high in protein with no calorie and no fat.  Having a cartilagenous body, the sea cucumber serves as a rich source of mucopolysacchrides, substances that are used to build cartilage and chondroitin sulfate, known for its ability to reduce arthritis.

Sea cucumber has been used for thousands of years by Asians as a culinary delicacy.  Although rather bland in taste on its own, it has the ability to absorb and accentuate the flavours and seasoning of the other ingredients in which it is cooked.  It's used in soups, stir-fry or  braised dishes, and in particular sea cucumber meals have been offered on special occasions especially New Year celebrations.  Read more on sea cucumber from Wikipedia.


How to soften dried sea cucumbers.
  1. First and foremost, the pot used to boil the water to soak the dried sea cucumbers must be free from oil and grease.   It should be fairly deep because the sea cucumbers will expand upon soaking.
  2. The total process takes 4 days and they must be soaked 8 times in boiled water, twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening.  During the process make sure that the pot does not get contaminated with rice water.
  3. Boil a pot of water, enough to cover the sea cucumbers and once boiled, turn off the heat, put in the dried sea cucumbers, cover the pot.  Then in the evening, discard the water, boil a  fresh round of water and once boiled, turn off heat and soak in the dried sea cucumbers.  Cover the pot and leave overnight.
  4. Repeat this process and on the 3rd day, (by this time they should be slightly soft), make a slit in the centre of the sea cucumbers and remove the entrails, innards, etc. and wash under running water.
  5. Boil water again and soak them for another day.
  6. After the 4th day, discard the water, wash them under running water.  By now they should be soft and tender to the touch, ready for cooking.
  7. If they're not required to  be cooked immediately, freeze them for future use.


The sea cucumbers being soaked in the boiled water on the 4th day.   Washed and cut up ready to be used.


Mushrooms, soaked, stems cut off and big ones have been halved.


Pork knuckles being blanched in hot water to  remove the scum.
 All the ingredients in the wok, simmering till the meat is tender and the sea cucumbers, soft.











mmm .... the feeling of succulent jelly-like texture of the sea cucumber with the flavourful stock  ..... Yummy!

Recipe for Braised Pork Knuckles with Sea Cucumber

Ingredients
  • 250 gm sea cucumbers, (4 pieces) - soaked, cleaned and cut
  • 70 gm dried mushrooms (14 pieces)  - soaked, stemmed and cut
  • 100 gm garlic with skin - crushed
  • 2 whole star anise
  • a small piece of cinnamon stick
  • 1.5 kg pork knuckles
  • 4 cups water + another 3 cups after putting in the meat
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp dark soya sauce
  • 2 tsp light soya sauce
  • 10 - 15 gn rock sugar
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste
Preparation
  1. Boil some water in a wok and once boiling, blanch in the washed pork knuckles to remove scum, about 10 mins.
  2. Dish out, discard the water and wash the pork knuckles under running water.
  3. Saute the crushed garlic with 1 Tbsp of oil till fragrant, add in the mushrooms and fry for a while.  Add in 4 cups of water, star anise, cinnamon stick and sea cucumber.  Bring to the boil.
  4. Add in the oyster sauce, rock sugar, light and dark soya sauce, and let it cook for about 1/2 an hour on medium heat.
  5. Then add in the pork knuckles and another 3 cups of water and let it cook for about 2 hours under medium to low heat.
  6. Once the sea cucumbers are soft and the pork knuckles are tender, then the dish is done. 
  7. Add salt to taste.
  8. Dish out and Serve.


Slowly braise over slow fire, till the knuckles and sea cucumber are soft and gelatinous, after some hours.
Enjoy!

Note:
This dish will taste even better if it is cooked a day before.

Comments

  1. This looks like a restaurant dish! I miss the sea cucumber. Too bad....can't find here. If there is at restaurant, would cause a big hole in the pocket :D

    ReplyDelete
  2. this dish is more or less a Must for cny, right? sea cucumber aka hoi sum.. meaning Happiness.. but nowadays this hoi sum is getting more and more expensive already..

    ReplyDelete
  3. OMG! We cook something similar during Chinese new year, you version looks so tempting! I'll have to double the quantity!

    ReplyDelete
  4. this dish looks and sounds perfect for cny!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I like sea cucumbers but many don't. Not sure why but they say duely it is a slug.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Mary, it's a restaurant dish, but more economical to DIY. During CNY most restaurants will recommend this dish, auspicious, but also very pricey!

    renaclaire. Yes this is very expensive. Better get the dried ones and rehydrate them rather than get the ready to cook ones from the market. Sometimes they'll just disintegrate and you get nothing to eat!

    3 hungry tummies
    Normally, I'll cook this a few days earlier, and freeze it.

    tracieMoo
    Yes, all the good homonyms, 'hoi sum'/happy, 'pork knuckles'/G sau which means 'wang choy jau sau', all good luck will come your way!

    penny
    Yes, I agree, some ppl call it a vacuum cleaner! But it's good for rejuvenating cartilage.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Cheah, still early for this LOL! haha.... I've check the frozen sea cucumber and it cost about $70/kg. What do you think? But thing is my freezer already full!

    ReplyDelete
  8. kudos to you, inspired to try some if not most of yr recipe with yr simple recipe guide motivating me to cook more eloborate dishes for dinner.

    wishing you and yr fmly gong hei fa cai

    ReplyDelete
  9. this is the family favourite but sea cucumber so expensive so I just braised hoe si fatt choy with pork :) Yours looks delicious !

    ReplyDelete
  10. Kristy
    I've never tried frozen ones, afraid that they may 'melt' during the cooking process.

    yeoh
    Thanks for dropping by. A very happy New Year to you and your family too!

    Elin
    I bought 4 dried ones, around 4 inches long, can't remember the weight cost around 80 rgt. Hoe Si fatt choy is just as good. Good tidings and good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Geritji ---- from IndonesiaApril 29, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    I thank you very much for your dellicious recipee, and appreciate very much the way you described it,....very clear...,easy to understand .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for your kind compliments. Hope to see you more often!

      Delete
  12. Heya! I'm at work browsing your blog from my new apple iphone! Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts! Carry on the superb work!

    Here is my web site: click here

    ReplyDelete

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