Sea cucumbers are a fascinating and rare creature found in oceans around the world. Depending on where you travel, they can be called anything from êche-de-mer to sea rat. In Chinese, they are known as hai shen, which translates to marine ginseng. Sea cucumbers can live for 5 to 10 years and can be eaten raw, fried, pickled or added to dry dishes.
If you buy dried sea cucumber, the guts will most likely have been removed. To rehydrate it, you must start the process in advance as it can take several days (usually four to six days). Dried sea cucumber can be stored in its original packaging in a cool, dry place for up to three years. The most expensive type is the thorny sea cucumber, which is elongated and dark in color with a thorny exterior.
Frozen sea cucumber must be thawed in the refrigerator overnight in its original packaging before cooking. Sea cucumbers are found on the seabed all over the world and are tasteless but have the ability to absorb the flavors of the foods and condiments with which it is cooked. As they travel along the seabed, eating and defecating, sea cucumbers help distribute nutrients and remove excess organic matter from sediment and water. The internal parts of sea cucumbers can become chewy when cooked together with the sea cucumber.
The sea cucumber with a white nipple is named after its white skin with white dots and comes from Indonesia, Australia and Africa.