Easy Guide to Prepare Dried Sea Cucumber for Cooking

2 min read


By Wing Joo Loong Team

Key Takeaways

  • Sea cucumber is a nutritious, low-fat food rich in proteins. It also contains essential amino acids, fatty acids and minerals.
  • Rehydrating dried sea cucumber can take 4-6 days. Read on for the step-by-step tutorial.

Sea cucumbers have been highly sought-after for years due to their nutritional richness. They are considered one of the four Chinese sea treasures, alongside fish maw and abalone. In fact, during the Ming dynasty, sea cucumbers were esteemed as an imperial delicacy for their exclusivity and benefits.

Today, you can find dried sea cucumbers in many Asian households. Once rehydrated for cooking, sea cucumbers take on a slippery texture that easily absorbs the flavours of your dish, whether braised or stir-fried.

Benefits of sea cucumber

Besides being rich in proteins, sea cucumber also contains essential amino acids, fatty acids, minerals and more, all the while being low in fat content. Some therapeutic properties of sea cucumber include:

  • Nourishing blood and vital essence 
  • Tonifying kidneys 
  • Reducing fatigue
  • Improving complexion 
  • Promoting wound healing and tissue repair

Here is an easy-to-follow tutorial on how to prepare your dried sea cucumber.

Rehydrating dried sea cucumber

The rehydration process takes up to a week, so be sure to set aside some time if you’re cooking any festive dishes, such as pen cai.

Preparation time: 4-6 days.

Day 1

  • Soak the sea cucumbers overnight in water, in a clean and oil-free pot.

Day 2

  • Put the sea cucumbers into a pot of fresh boiling water and simmer for 15 minutes before turning off the fire. Cover the pot and let them soak overnight.
  • Note: Do not remove the lid to prevent contamination.

Day 3

  • Gently cut the underside of the softened sea cucumber and use a metal spoon to remove all the internal organs and impurities. Clean the insides as soon as possible to prevent them from becoming smelly.
  • Rinse before boiling them in fresh water for another 15 minutes. Turn off the fire and cover the pot. Leave the sea cucumbers to soak overnight. Do not remove the lid.
  • Note: You may not be able to remove all the internal organs on the first try and can continue to do so the next day.

Day 4

  • Once the sea cucumbers are soft and bouncy, rinse them and change water one last time.
  • Soak them in a clean and oil-free pot, and keep in the fridge for another two days.
  • Note: As sea cucumber varieties may vary in texture, some may require a longer or shorter soaking time to achieve optimal softness. Keep an eye on the texture during soaking and adjust the duration as needed to achieve the desired softness.

Day 6

  • Remove the sea cucumbers from the pot. They are now ready for cooking

Additional tips on preparing and storing sea cucumbers

In addition to the above tutorial, keep these tips in mind to reduce risk of contamination in the process:

  • Maintain a clean, oil-free pot during preparation 
  • Ensure the sea cucumbers are fully submerged in water while soaking 
  • Change the water at each step of the cleaning and soaking process 
  • Rinse the sea cucumbers thoroughly after handling

If you do not plan on cooking them immediately:

  • Wrap the softened sea cucumbers in a food-grade ziplock bag and store them in the freezer 
  • Thaw the frozen sea cucumber overnight in the fridge before cooking 
  • Avoid repeated rehydration and storage to preserve texture

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The above steps are to serve as a guide only. The duration of the rehydration steps may differ depending on the size and type of sea cucumbers used.

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