Skip to content

a luxury food that has nothing to do with our espardeñas

25 mayo, 2021

The one of the holothurians, commonly known as sea ​​cucumber, It is a family of animals that inhabit the bottoms of the seas around the world. Despite their a priori unpleasant appearance – in Latin America they are known directly as “Sea landmark”-, its use as food is present in many cultures.

In Spain, we know the interior of the animal as “espardeña”, an ingredient that usually used as if it were a mollusk, highly appreciated in haute cuisine. But in much of Asia, where it is a luxury product (very expensive), what is used is not the interior of the animal, but its bark.

The seven most dangerous foods in the world (that people keep eating)

This is how the Hong Kong chef explained it Vicky Cheng, who has given one of the most interesting presentations that we have on Madrid Fusión. The cook, despite being a native of the former British colony in China, has been trained in western stoves, in Canada and the United States, where he learned all the classical French techniques. When four years ago he opened his own restaurant in his hometown, See, he did it with the idea of ​​applying everything he learned from his mentor Daniel Boulud to Chinese ingredients, including sea cucumber.

Cheng 4 Cheng holds a dried sea cucumber during his talk.

As Cheng points out, this ingredient considered a deli in China -also in Japan, Malaysia or the Philippines- hardly found in western Asian restaurantsIt is an expensive dish, which requires a complex preparation and for which most of the diners are not prepared.

The Cook spent eight months developing his version of the plate, looking for a way to cook the animal in the Chinese style, starting from the dehydrated product, but finishing it in the classic way, with a texture suitable for all palates. And he has explained step by step how to do it.

Dry Cucumber2 The dried sea cucumber, which is used in Chinese cuisine.

Espardeñas are a by-product

In China the sea cucumber you always buy dehydrated, a process that, curiously, is carried out in Japan, a country from which many marine products are imported. There the animal dries until its size is reduced almost five times. This little product It is a luxury good, which can cost up to 15 euros, although its price varies depending on the number of tines it has: the more tines, the more expensive. In a restaurant, sea cucumber dishes usually cost between 40 and 50 euros. It is one of the largest deli of Chinese gastronomy.

Your restaurant overcharge has a lot to do with the tedious dehydration process of the animal. As Cheng explained, it must first be left to hydrate for two days in warm water, then it must be immersed in boiling water for 12 hours to remove it, clean it from mud, and return it to hot water for another 12 hours. It is then, three days later, when it is necessary to cut it, remove the mouth, remove the inside -our espardeñas, which in China use as a by-product for other stews-, to obtain the already softened topping, which is the one used in dishes. .

Pennine Mar Cooked This is how sea cucumber is served in traditional Chinese cuisine.

And this is where Cheng’s inventiveness comes in: “The sea cucumber, even for someone from Hong Kong, It is not for everybody, it is very gelatinous. I thought about mixing the knowledge of two cultures, so knowing that a lot of people don’t want to eat it, I thought that if I wanted to put it on the menu I had to change the texture, change the gelatin for something crunchy ”.

Direct to the Paladar Newsletter

Subscribe to receive our recipes, nutrition information and gastronomy news every day.

Once the skin of the sea cucumber is dehydrated, which reminds of the inner tube of a tire, Cheng fills this with a mousse that, in this case, and being in Madrid, he has made with police. After this, cover the cucumber in film and steam it for 10 minutes, put it in the fridge and, after a few hours, he fries it by pouring very hot oil on top, which causes a change in its texture: the inside is still very soft and gelatinous, but the outside is crunchy, which is more pleasant.

Cheng claims to have made many versions of this dish, all similar. In this one, specially designed for Madrid Fusion, the cucumber it is accompanied on the plate with a carabinero tartare, a sauce made with the head of this, and a little yellow wine from Hong Kong. The result is that you can see in the opening photo. I wish I could have tried it.

Images | Reale Seguros Madrid Fusion / Alibaba / iStock
Directly to the Palate | What dishes to order in a Chinese restaurant: there is life beyond rice and roll
Directly to the Palate | Everything you need to know about dim sum, the oriental snack that has conquered the West