Sea Cucumber with Beef-balls

Sea Cucumber with Beef-balls

Sea Cucumber with Beef-balls

The rich dish pictured above features two dried ingredients much prized in Chinese cuisine. The unique, gelatinous texture of reconstituted Dried Sea Cucumbers is paired with the umami-rich flavor of Chinese Black Mushrooms, and together they are braised with lightly seasoned Beef-balls to elevate the simple to the heavenly.

Ingredient Notes

The Recipe Card below calls for Sea Cumbers that have been reconstituted. If you are not familiar with how to do this, you will want to follow the instructions in my Introduction to Dried Sea Cucumbers. It is a laborious process, but well worth the effort. The Chinese Black Mushrooms, also known as Shiitake, will also have to be reconstituted, but, thankfully, that requires no more than soaking them for twenty minutes or so in warm water.

The Shaoxing Wine called for in the braising medium can be replaced with any Rice Wine, or even a nice dry Sherry. As for the stock, use canned Chicken stock if you like, but a homemade Basic Chinese Chicken Stock is much preferred.

The Method

Seasoned Beef-balls ready for cooking
Seasoned Beef-balls ready for cooking

First, mix together the ground beef, scallion, ginger, salt and pepper and form small, walnut sized balls.

Beef-balls after browning
Beef-balls after browning

Pan-fry, or deep-fry the balls until they have a nice browning and set them aside. They do not need to be fully cooked all the way through at this point as they will be further cooked in the braising liquid a little later.

Sea Cucumber and Black Mushrooms sliced for the Pan.
Sea Cucumber and Black Mushrooms sliced for the Pan.

Remove the stems from the soaked mushrooms and slice the caps into thin strips. Next, slice the sea cucumber into two along the length and then cut each piece horizontally into thin pieces.

Stir-frying sliced Sea Cucumber with Garlic
Stir-frying sliced Sea Cucumber with Garlic

Heat a tablespoon of either cooking oil or (better still) pork lard in a pan over moderate heat and sauté the sea cucumber pieces. When they take on a little color, stir in the garlic and toss until the aroma rises.

Braising Sea Cucumber and Mushrooms in Stock and Rice Wine
Braising Sea Cucumber and Mushrooms in Stock and Rice Wine

Add the mushrooms, stock, soy sauce, sugar and rice wine and when the pan begins to boil, turn down the heat to low.

Finishing cooking Sea Cucumber with Beef-balls
Finishing cooking Sea Cucumber with Beef-balls

Simmer the dish until the liquid has reduced by about half and then add in the meatballs. Continue to cook until the meatballs are cooked through and then turn up the heat. When everything starts to boil, thicken with the cornstarch mixture and remove from the heat. Plate, garnishing with some sliced scallion if desired, and serve hot.

Your Recipe Card:

Sea Cucumber with Beef-balls

Sea Cucumber with Beef-balls features braises seasoned Beef-balls with gelatinous Chinese Sea Cucumbers and umami-rich Shiitake Mushrooms.
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: Chicken Stock, Chinese Black Mushrooms, Garlic Paste, Rice Wine, Scallion, Ground Beef, Dried Sea Cucumber
Author: John Thompson

Ingredients

  • 1 Medium Sea Cucumber reconstituted;
  • 4 Medium dried Chinese Black Mushrooms reconstituted;
  • 1/2 lb ground Beef;
  • 1 Scallion finely chopped;
  • 1 tbsp. minced Ginger;
  • 1 pinch each Salt and Pepper;
  • 1 tsp. minced Garlic;
  • 2 cups Chicken Stock;
  • ¼ cup Soy Sauce;
  • 3 tbsp. Sugar;
  • 2 tbsp. Shaoxing Wine;
  • 1 – 2 tsp. Cornstarch mixed to a slurry in Water;

Instructions

  • Mix together the ground beef, scallion, ginger, salt and pepper and form small, walnut sized balls.
  • Lightly fry the balls until just browned and set aside.
  • Slice the Mushroom caps into strips, then slice the Sea Cucumber in half lengthwise, and then slice each half crosswise into thin slices.
  • Sauté the sea cucumber pieces in a little oil over moderate heat and, when they take on a little color, stir in the garlic and fry a little longer until the aroma rises.
  • Add the mushrooms, stock, soy sauce, sugar and rice wine and when the pan begins to boil, turn down the heat to low.
  • Simmer the dish until the liquid has reduced by half and then add in the meatballs.
  • Continue to cook until the meatballs are cooked through and then turn up the heat to a boil.
  • Thicken the sauce with the Cornstarch slurry, plate, garnishing with Scallion slices if desired, and serve while still hot.

Comments, questions or suggestions most welcome!