Simple Preparation of a Chinese Classic
Preparing Bêche-de-Mer is never exactly simple or quick, although it has become easier with the arrival of frozen and pre-cleaned products from Asian fisheries.
In Chinese cuisine, Bêche-de-Mer, also called Sea Cucumbers, seem to have an affinity to Pork, Chicken, Bamboo Shoots and various kinds of Mushrooms.
Here’s a — relatively — simple recipe that uses several of the traditional affinities effectively and is fairly simple to make.
Bêche-de-Mer Braised with Pork
4 medium sized Sea Cucumbers
1 cup Bamboo Shoots, diced
8 dried Chinese Black Mushrooms
¼ cup dried Cloud Ear Mushrooms
2 cups Chicken Stock
½ pound Pork, such as Pork Chop
2 Green Onions
2 slices fresh Ginger
4 tablespoons Oil
2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
½ teaspoon Sal
½ teaspoon Sugar
1 tablespoon Corn Starch
First the Bêche-de-Mer have to be soaked in several changes of warm water and when they are fully rehydrated, will need to be slit open and cleaned out very thoroughly. If you buy the fresh-frozen variety, they still need to be cleaned carefully and washed several times.
Once they are rehydrated and completely cleaned, you should boil them enough water to cover for about 15 minutes with a slice of Ginger and a Green Onion, then throw away the boiling water, cover with cold water and store in the refrigerator for up to two days until you are ready to use them.
The dried Black Mushrooms need to be soaked in warm Water, at least an hour and preferably overnight, then cut into quarters.
The Bamboo Shoots should be cut into fine, bite-sized dice.
When ready to cook, cut the Pork into thin slices about an inch long and about a quarter inch thick and set aside.
The Sea Cucumbers need to be cut into bite-sized pieces at this stage and set aside as well.
You’ll also want to soak the dried Cloud Ear Mushrooms in warm water for at least a quarter hour up to half an hour, then drain well, wash in cold water and drain again and set aside.
Cut the Green Onion in inch-long pieces.
When ready to cook, heat a wok until hot, then put in the Oil and stir-fry the Green Onions and Ginger a few seconds. Put in the Pork slices and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
Put n the Sea Cucumbers, Black Mushroom pieces and Bamboo Shoot pieces and stir-fry 3 to 5 minutes.
Next, put in the Cloud Ear Mushrooms, Soy Sauce, Salt, Sugar, and Chicken Stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce the flame and simmer for 45 to 60 minutes, until the Sea Cucumbers are very tender and gelatinous.
Just before serving, dissolve the Corn Starch in one or two tablespoons of cold Water, then add it to the dish, stir to combine and serve.
This is basically a Red-Cooked dish in Chinese culinary terminology. It is considered to be very nutritious and easily digestible.