I am trying to trace the origin of this dish but not successful. Apparently this common restaurant dish in Singapore and Malaysia are not really common in China or other Chinese restaurants. I am unsure who paired sea cucumber with duck though such pairing does appeared in Chinese recipes in the form of soups and porridges.
Chinese websites said that duck meat is a good protein source and sea cucumber is full of collagen with no cholesterol. However, they are short of explaining why they are paired together as a dish. In fact there are many unusual paring of ingredients in Chinese cuisines and I do believe there is a rationale behind each pairing which I believed this was not properly documented. Whatever it is, such pairing does give a delicious meat and seafood dish. At least the taste does not clash between the two ingredients.
Personally I would think that the two were cooked together because they have almost the same cooking or stewing time. They need time to stew until the sea cucumber is soft and the duck meat falls off the bone.
Having said that, it all depends on the type of sea cucumber that you have. Some of the sea cucumber cannot withstand long hours of stewing and it will “melt” or disintegrated. If you are unsure, you can always add the sea cucumber half way during the braising . As to how to select the type of sea cucumber, I do not think I am in a capacity to advise you as I was always given free from a kind hearted granny that does the soaking for me .
This recipe is using pressure cooker which is rather fast. As usual, anything that the pressure can do, stoves can also do but the timing taken may be 3 –4 times what you need during pressure cooking. If this recipe you used to pressure cook the meat for 20 minutes, stoves will require about 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes to get the same texture and of course, you will need to keep an eye during the stewing.
WHAT IS REQUIRED
Servings: 4-6 adults servings
- 2 duck tights or half a duck cut into big pieces
- 1 sea cucumber, soaked
- 10 shitake mushrooms, soaked
- 6 slices of ginger
- 3 sprigs of spring onion
- A small broccoli (optional)
Seasonings and others
- 3 tablespoons of oyster sauce
- 1/2 cup of Chinese cooking wine
- Pinches of salt
- 2 tablespoons of corn starch mixed with 4 tablespoons of water
STEPS OF PREPARATION
- Cut the soaked sea cucumber into big pieces. It should not be overly small as for this recipe, the sea cucumber will be braised together with the duck.
- In a wok, either pan fry or deep fry the duck until the exterior is set. You need not to fully cook the duck and the purpose of this step is to maintain the shape of the duck meat during stewing such that it will not be disintegrated so easily. Dish out and set aside.
- In a wok, put 1 tablespoon of cooking oil, sauté the mushrooms, ginger and spring onion until aromatic. Add the sea cucumber and have a quick stir for 1 minute before off the heat.
- Transfer the duck and the stir fried sea cucumber (together with ginger, mushroom and spring onion) to the pressure cooker pot, add the oyster sauce, Chinese cooking wine, pinches of salt and water (water shall just adequate to cover the duck).
- Pressure cook the duck and sea cucumber for 20 minutes. If from your previous experiences that this batch of sea cucumber cannot withstand long hour of pressure cooking, you can stop the pressure cooking at 10 minutes (beware and opening of the pressure cooker lid shall follow the pressure cooker instructions), add the sea cucumber and continue to pressure cook for another 10 minutes. Once done, let the duck and sea cucumber to rest in the pressure cooker for half an hour before serving. You can stew the duck over the stove, after sautéing the ginger step, add the duck, add adequate water and once it boils, reduce the heat to medium and let it simmer until the duck is soft.
- Meanwhile, blanch the broccoli in a pot of hot water with pinches of salt and a teaspoon of cooking oil. Drain and set aside.
- Before serving, dish out and arrange the sea cucumber, duck meat, mushrooms and broccoli on your serving plate. Transfer all the meat broth or gravy to a wok, add starches solution and simmer until the sauce thickens. Drizzle the sauce onto the duck and sea cucumber before serving.
This is supposed a Chinese New Year recipe but it is late and may be you can consider preparing it for other occasions. I cooked this dish to serve my guest when they are visiting me since I have sea cucumber with me.
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