Other Name of Sea Cucumber: Haishen in Chinese which means, roughly, ginseng of the sea.
Sea Cucumber which is related to sea urchin and starfish is a delicacy in Asian cooking. Because it is quite expensive you would just often see it served during special occasion, like New Year’s day.
This sea creature was named sea cucumber because it resembled the shape of a cucumber, with a leathery skin and looked like a giant worm. There are over 1000 known species of sea cucumbers and some of it reaches 72 inches in length.
Sea cucumbers are naturally flavorless, so it readily absorbed the flavors of the other ingredients they are cooked with.
How Sea Cucumber defend itself: Sea cucumbers may appear defenseless. However, when they feel threatened, they violently contract their bodies, literally turning themselves inside out, expelling a large part of their insides including organs and intestines. Their organs contain a toxic substance that is deadly to fish and other sea creatures.
The sea cucumber is then able to regenerate these expelled organs and body parts within a few months. Experts believed that this regenerative power is the reason why sea cucumber is a winner in fighting some deadly disease.
Health Benefits of Sea Cucumber:
- Sea cucumber has been used in Chinese medicine to treat joint pain and arthritis because it is a rich source of chondroitin sulfate. It can also help in cases of impotence, fatigue, frequent urination and constipation.
- Studies have shown that fatty acids found in sea cucumber stops the spread of cancer, and thus preventing the formation of new tumors. It can help in the treatment of breast, prostate, lung, skin, colon, and pancreatic cancer.
- Sea cucumber can help in speeding up wound healing, it does so by facilitating the formation of new tissues within a short time.
Important Nutrient in Sea Cucumber:
- 55% higher in protein than most food
- Contains 10 – 16% mucopolysaccharides, compound that help rebuild cartilage
- Low in fat than most food
How to Prepare Sea Cucumber: After sea cucumber is collected, the internal organs are removed, and dirt and sands are washed out. Then is it boiled in salty water and dried in the air to preserve it.
How to Cook Sea Cucumber: To cook, you first have to softened the dried sea cucumber. To soften it, place the sea cucumber in a pot and add cold water to cover; soak for at least 12 hours; then cook over low heat for 1 to 2 hours; add more water, as necessary, make sure that the water always covers the cucumbers; remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, then drain. Slice it or add it as is in your recipe.
Sea Cucumber as Supplement: Sea cucumber extract are now available in many health food stores.
Caution: Do not take sea cucumber in any form if you have sensitivity to seafood, or if you are taking anticoagulants as it may act as a blood thinner.