I bought a lot of dried sea cucumbers, so it's time to rehydrate and clean some of them for cooking. This is also my first time rehydrating dried sea cucumbers and I will only rehydrate a few for experiment. I did a number of searches to see how others rehydrate their dried sea cucumbers and all I find is a simple method where you just soak, boil, and soak. My dad uses the same method for rehydrating dried sea cucumber except he burn it first then soak. My dad's method yield a larger meatier sea cucumber at the end. The color is also more appetizing as it's golden brown instead of black. But then it's a lot more work and more cleaning. So I will sharing this simple method instead.
1. Soak the dried sea cucumber for 2 days. Change water daily.
2. Drain the water. Using shrimp paste and rub all over the dried sea cucumber. Leave it for 6-7 hours at room temperature. ***Shrimp paste helps to ease the cleaning of the dried sea cucumber. Everything will come off easily.
3. After 6-7 hours, wash and rinse off the shrimp paste. Then bring the sea cucumber with some ginger to boil in a clean and grease free pot. After the water boil for a few minutes then turn the heat off and cover. Let it cover until the next day.
4. Take the sea cucumber out and use a brush to clean the skin. Clean as much as you can. Then place in a pot, add in some water and ginger, bring to boil again then turn off heat and cover. Repeat this step for 2-3 days.
5. By day 6, cut open the sea cucumber (stomach side) and remove intestine and clean the inside of the sea cucumber. After done cleaning, you can just soak the sea cucumber in clean water.
6. Depending on the size of your dried sea cucumber soak longer for thick and larger sea cucumber. The smaller one will get soften faster but it doesn't hurt to soak it longer. After rehydrating and cleaning, the sea cucumber is now ready for cooking.
This is how my sea cucumbers look like after 7 days soaking. The black color is not so appetizing so I had my dad to burn them over the flame for a little to lighten the color.
If you start with a large and fat dried sea cucumber then you'll get a large fat sea cucumber. My dad's sea cucumber was fat and it was 7 inches when dry. After using his method, his sea cucumber ended up 10 inches and really thick compared to my 5 inches. Mine started at 5-6 inches and ended at 7-10 inches.
My dad usually rehydrate 6-8 dried sea cucumbers and then freeze them in freezer bags. Rehydrated sea cucumbers freeze well so no worries about texture or taste change.
I'm pretty satisfied with the donkey dung sea cucumbers as they are a lot cheaper compared to other dried sea cucumbers plus they are meatier. Because of this I just went and order some more for storage....hehehe.
***Remember, for any type of dried sea cucumber, always buy the straight, fat, large, and light in weight. A very dry sea cucumber will yield you a larger sea cucumber. Fat dried sea cucumber will give you a meatier thick sea cucumber after rehydration.