At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Sunday, February 03, 2013


Over a year ago I detailed how to prepare sea-cucumber. This past Friday, an anonymous commenter wrote: "Add sliced pork to the dish above for extra delicious!" Indeed! Adding pork to any dish involving sea-cucumber is a fine idea. One of the most traditional combinations involves sea-cucumber, black mushrooms, and pork knuckle.
It's particularly good, I have been told, for people with arthritis or stiff joints, as well as young mothers.

Not being a young mother, I will just have to take their word for it. As you may guess, a fifty-three year-old pipesmoking bachelor (me) is not likely to become a young mother anytime soon. The obstacles are daunting.
Arthritis, however, is a possibility.
Not a problem at this point.
Occasional twinges.
Rarely occur.


Two sea cucumbers; soaked, cleaned, thickly sliced.
More than a pound of pork knuckle.
Ten dried black mushrooms (冬菇), soaked and sliced.
Garlic and ginger, slivered.
Two tablespoons rice wine or sherry.
One tablespoon soy sauce.
One tablespoon oyster sauce.
One tablespoon sugar.
Pinch of five spice powder.
Pinch of ground pepper.

First blanch the pork knuckles in boiling water to remove scum for about ten minutes. Then rinse them thoroughly under cold water. Heat a dash of oil in a pan and add the garlic and ginger. Once they start colouring, add the sliced black mushroom and the rice wine or sherry. When the liquid is nearly gone, add the sliced sea cucumber, stir briefly, and pour in water to cover. Don't include the pork knuckles yet, but add everything else. Simmer for twenty minutes, then add in the pork knuckles, and simmer on very low heat for two hours, or longer. Make sure that this dish is 'soupy', as the combination of the sea cucumbers and pork knuckles with their gravy over rice is wonderful.

"Add pork, for extra delicious!"

The next dish is somewhat different, yet rather similar.
It features many of the same ingredients.
And is just as good.


Two sea cucumbers; soaked, cleaned, thickly sliced.
Half a pound of five flower pork (五花腩).
Six black mushrooms (冬菇), soaked and sliced.
Plenty of slivered ginger - two thumbs.
Two TBS rice wine or sherry.
Half to one TBS shrimp paste (鹹蝦醬).
One Tsp. sambal ulek or raw chili paste.
Generous pinch of sugar.
Medium pinch of corn flour.
Small pinch five spice powder.

Blanch the piece of pork in boiling water for five minutes, blanch the sea cucumber also, but only briefly. Rinse the pork under cold water so that it can be cut into pieces of roughly the same size as the sea cucumber, which you will have simply drained. Mix the pork with the shrimp paste, sambal ulek, sugar, corn flour, and five spice powder in a broad shallow bowl, and when the sea cucumber is cool enough to handle, add it too. Strew the slivered ginger over the top.
Bring the water in your steamer to a roiling boil, place the bowl inside, and steam on high for two hours. Garnish with fresh cilantro after removing from the steamer.
The juices especially are delicious with your rice.

This isn't the most low-fat dish on the planet. So serve it with some nice lan sam (蘭芯) or mustard greens (芥菜), and plenty of tea to assist digestion.

NOTE: You can either follow the directions I outlined in my earlier article for soaking sea cucumber in preparation for these dishes, or ask your merchant.
Not all sea cucumber is the same, and some take longer to soften, sometimes up to six or seven days.
Remember to change the water twice per day.
I usually go for those that are about as long as my hand in their dry state, and look repulsive and rather blackish. They tend to be easiest to clean.


Relating to Chinese festive occasions, such as the New Year (春節, 初一), which will be on Sunday February 10th. in 2013, any dish that features sea cucumber is extremely appropriate. The term 'hoi sam' (海參) is a very close homophonic duplicate of 'happiness' (開心) in Cantonese.

I suggest preparing it either for New Years Eve, at the great family get-together to end the old year, (年夜飯 nien yeh fan), or a few days later, when you can cook and clean again. The eighth day (Feb. 17th, 2013) is the perfect date for an "open the year" feast.

If you made 好事發財 (ho si fat choi: dried oyster with hair vegetable -- 'good affairs and attaining prosperity'), you already have either the streaky pork belly (五花腩 ng fa nam) or the pig's knuckles (豬手 ju sau) on the table. So it might be best to simply prepare the sea cucumber according to the recipe given in that earlier article.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

Labels: , , , , ,


  • At 8:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Those look like great ideas.

    You Chinese?


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older