You might be forgiven for mistaking the above two objects for fossilized dinosaur droppings but they are, in fact, a dried marine delicacy commonly called ‘Sea Cucumber’. These ‘cucumbers’, also known as ‘beche-de-mer’ or ‘trepang’ are widely harvested and consumed but are especially popular in Chinese cookery where they are known as 海参 or ‘hǎishēn’, meaning ‘sea ginseng’. Like tofu, these delicacies are prized more for their texture rather than their intrinsic flavor, which is practically non-existent and they are typically braised, or otherwise cooked with rich sauces and other ingredients from which they then absorb flavor.
Despite being called sea ‘cucumbers’, these culinary treats are actually a type of marine animal and, while it is possible to buy then fresh in some places, or occasionally frozen, they are commonly sold in the dried form you see above. Accordingly, sea cucumbers must be reconstituted before use and, although you will sometimes find them being sold with this process already completed, more commonly you will need to do it at home. It is a bit of a lengthy process and we will be looking at this below… Continue reading “Foodstuff: Dried Sea Cucumber”
Dried Squid are used quite commonly as a cooking ingredient in the cuisines of China, Korea and the Philippines and are very popular, in various forms, as a snack food, particularly in Japan. The advantages of drying the product are not only for lengthy storage in the absence of refrigeration but, as with most dried foods, the flavor of the fresh article is considerably concentrated and enhanced.
Whole squid, untreated other than by the drying process, can be purchased in a variety of sizes, from over a foot long, to just a few inches or so in length and, once prepared for use, can be utilized in much the same was as fresh squid, albeit with some change in flavor and texture. Generally, good quality dried squid will still have quite a sweetish taste but as it ages it can be a little bitter sometimes so try and choose a product that has a nice, light color and avoid any that is very dark brown or is devoid of aroma… Continue reading “Foodstuff: Dried Squid”
The firm tofu you purchase at the supermarket has already been pressed during manufacture in order to from it into blocks but many recipes require that it be pressed even further to remove as much water as possible. As I have a number of recipe posts planned that will require this process, I am doing up this simple preliminary post now so as to save repeating myself several times later… Continue reading “Pressing Tofu…”