A prehistoric treat from the deep
Soft and slimy, the sea cucumber couldn't be further from the cool vegetable it's named after - apart from its shape. The bottom dweller, of which there are more than 1,000 species, ranges in size from 2cm to a few metres long and has been around for 400 million years.
Several species form a regular part of some Asian diets and are employed in traditional folk remedies to treat impotence, heal wounds and reduce joint pain. It is also believed to contain compounds that fight ailments such as cancer, arthritis, sports injuries, tendinitis and other inflammatory diseases.
But according to the American Cancer Society, there is little reliable scientific evidence to support any of these claims.
However, that shouldn't stop you from enjoying this recipe from the Regal Palace Restaurant at the Regal Hongkong Hotel in Causeway Bay.
'Sea cucumber is a low-fat, low-cholesterol seafood which is also rich in protein. Its nutritive value is comparable to meat,' says Sylvia Lam See-way, president of the Hong Kong Dietitians Association.
'Double-boiling [cooking in a pot inside another pot of hot water] lets the sea cucumber maintain its flavour.'
Double-boiled sea cucumber, mushroom and bok choy
4 sea cucumbers
8 pieces bok choy
Some Chinese wolfberries, rinsed
8 dried longans, rinsed
4 dried shiitake mushrooms, rinsed
1/5 tsp salt
Blanch sea cucumber and bok choy.
Place all ingredients in a pot. Add water and salt.
Double-boil for two hours and serve.
Recipe provided by the Health Department as part of its EatSmart@restaurant.hk campaign. For more information, visit restaurant.eatsmart.gov.hk