Sea Cucumber with Prawns


Serves 6-8

  • 120g dried sea cucumbers (about 11-12 sea cucumbers)

For the seafood

  • 230g large prawns, peeled, deveined
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp roasted sesame oil
  • 365g fresh mussels, cleaned, debearded (18 mussels)

For the thickener

  • 1 tsp corn starch
  • 2 tsp water

For the vegetables

  • 225g onion, diced into 3cm square sized pieces (about 1.5 small onions)
  • 1 Tbsp ginger, grated
  • 2 tsp garlic (about 4 cloves), grated
  • 185g shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, quartered (about 10 mushrooms)
  • 160g red bell pepper, cut into 3cm square sized pieces (1 bell pepper)
  • 225g Chinese leaf (napa cabbage), trimmed, white parts only, (about 4-5 large leaves)
  • 1 Tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp roasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp mirin
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp white sugar
  • 3 dried red chilies
  • 120mL hot water
  • 45g spring onions, sliced into 1cm pieces on a bias (about 2 long spring onions)


  • ½ tsp black and white sesame seeds
  • 1 Tbsp chives, sliced into 1cm pieces on a bias
  • Neutral oil for cooking


First, rehydrate and prepare the sea cucumbers:

Rinse the dried sea cucumbers in cold water. Place them in a container and fill with fresh spring bottled water until completely submerged cover and place in the fridge. Soak for 4-7 days, changing the water daily. Depending on the quality, you may have to soak longer. They should quadruple in size. Soak them long enough, until they are soft enough to cut open easily. Before cutting them open, scrub the outsides well with a brush under running water. Remove any whitish residue, if any. To cut open, place the sea cucumbers on a cutting board and cut in half horizontally and then lengthwise exposing the innards (I found that using scissors was the easiest/safest). Trims the ends off and discard. Rinse and clean the insides out, removing any sand and grit. Scrape away the intestines and the whitish lining (peels away in long strings). Next peel away the second thicker inner lining, which is a bit harder, but also peels away in one strip.

Place the cleaned sea cucumber in a sauce pot and cover with hot. Place over lowest heat setting, and allow to cook gently for 1 hour, do not boil. Change the water and repeat as necessary until the cucumbers are soft and pliable (3-4 hours). They should feel soft, but firm to touch. Do not overcook, otherwise they will become mushy.

Drain the cucumbers. Rinse well. Set aside.

Place the peeled prawns in a bowl and tip in oyster sauce and soy sauce, mix to coat and place in fridge to marinate for 30 minutes.

Make the thickener by whisking together the corn starch and water in a small bowl. Set aside. Re-whisk well before using later.

Drizzle a large non-stick skillet generously with oil and place over medium heat. Add the onion, ginger, and garlic. Sauté until slightly wilted and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the prawns and marinade and sauté until bright pink and cooked, about 3-4 minutes. Remove the prawns from the pan, place in a bowl and set aside in warm place. Add the mushrooms, bell peppers, and cabbage to the skillet. Sauté until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add the sea cucumber, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, mirin, black pepper, sugar, dried chilies and 120mL of hot water. Cook stirring often about 2 minutes, cover with lid and lower the heat to a simmer. Allow to gently simmer for about 10-12 minutes. Remove lid and season with salt to taste, add more sugar if necessary, too. Tip in the re-whisked cornstarch and stir until thickened. Tip the prawns back in and stir to coat with the sauce. Stir in the spring onions. Place on a serving plate, garnish with sesame seeds and chopped chives if you like. Serve immediately.

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