Cookbook Profile

Sea Cucumbers Braised
with Steamed Black Mushrooms

Makes 8 servings

Sea Cucumbers Braised with Steamed Black Mushrooms




1. Soak, clean, and rinse the sea cucumbers for 2 days as directed in the introduction above.

2. In a large pot, combine the soaked sea cucumbers, water, ginger, and scallions and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover, leaving the lid slightly cracked, and simmer for 1-1/2 hours, or until tender. Turn off the heat and let the sea cucumbers cool to room temperature in the liquid.

3. When cool, pour off the liquid and discard the ginger and scallions. Place the sea cucumbers on a chopping board, and cut them in half lengthwise. Then cut each half into 1-inch-thick pieces on the diagonal and reserve.

4. To make the sauce: In a small bowl, mix together all of the ingredients and reserve.

5. Heat a wok over high heat for 40 seconds. Add the peanut oil and, using a spatula, coat the wok with the oil. When a wisp of white smoke appears, add the ginger and stir for 30 seconds. Add the scallions and cook for 45 seconds, or until the scallions release their fragrance. Stir the sauce, pour it into the wok, stir together with the ginger and scallions, and bring to a boil. Add the sea cucumbers, bamboo shoots, and mushrooms, stir to mix well, and allow the sauce to return to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the wok, and braise the mixture for 15 minutes.

6. Raise the heat to high, stir the cornstarch-water mixture, make a well in the center of the wok mixture, and pour in the starch mixture. Stir and mix thoroughly for about 2 minutes, or until the sauce thickens and bubbles.

7. Turn off the heat, transfer to a heated dish, and serve.


Chicken Stock

Makes about 5-1/2 quarts


1. In a large stockpot, bring 4 quarts of the water to a boil. Add the chicken quarters, giblets, and wings and allow the water to return to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. This will bring the blood and juices to the top. Remove the pot from the heat and pour off the water. Run cold water into the pot to rinse off the chicken and then drain into a colander.

2. Place the chicken parts and the giblets back into the pot. Add the remaining 8-1/2 quarts water and all of the remaining ingredients. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, adjust the cover so it is slightly cracked, and simmer for 5 hours. Using a Chinese ladle, skim any residue from the surface as the stock simmers.

3. Turn off the heat and let the stock cool in the pot. Strain the stock through a fine-mesh strainer into containers to store for later use. Cover the containers and refrigerate for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 3 months. A thin layer of fat will form on the surface of the refrigerated or frozen stock. Leave it in place until you are ready to use the stock, then skim it off with a large spoon just before using. Most of the taste will have gone from the chicken to the stock, but you still may wish to nibble on the meat. Enjoy.


How to Clean a Chicken

Place the chicken in its wrapping in the sink. Unwrap it and discard the wrapping. Run cold water over the outside and inside the chicken. Remove any membranes and fat from the cavity. Take care to clean the body cavity thoroughly.

Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of salt on the breast side of the chicken and rub it thoroughly into the skin of the breast, thighs, legs, and wings. Turn the chicken over, sprinkle 2 tablespoons of salt over the entire back, and rub it thoroughly into the skin. Run cold water over the chicken to rinse away the salt and wash the chicken. The skin at this point will be very smooth and clean.

Put the chicken in a colander placed over a bowl to drain for several minutes.

Meanwhile, wash the sink and the work space well with soap, bleach, and water. Finally, wash your hands and then dry the chicken with paper towels. It is now ready to use.


Steamed Black Mushrooms

Makes 40 mushrooms, or 8 to 10 servings

Black mushrooms are highly regarded throughout China, and a dish of steamed black mushrooms is almost always offered as a symbol of honor to a respected visitor. It is traditionally eaten as a first course or as a course in a banquet of many dishes. But these mushrooms are also one of my basic preparations. I use the mushrooms as ingredients in other recipes, such as Hunan Pearl Balls (page 193 of the book) and Braised "Pork" with Black Mushrooms (page 298). However, I also enjoy eating them as they are. Here, I prepare them the classic way, with chicken fat, but you can substitute 3 tablespoons peanut oil, though the flavor of the finished dish will not be as intense.


1. In a bowl, soak the mushrooms in hot water to cover for 30 minutes. Drain, rinse the mushrooms thoroughly, and then squeeze out the excess water. Remove and discard the stems and place the caps in a steamproof dish.

2. In a bowl, mix together the scallions, chicken fat, ginger, stock, wine, soy sauce, sugar, and salt. Pour the mixture over the mushrooms and toss well.

3. Place the dish in a steamer, cover, and steam for 30 minutes.

4. Turn off the heat and remove the dish from the steamer. Discard the scallions, chicken fat, and ginger, then toss the mushrooms gently in the remaining liquid. Let cool to room temperature. The mushrooms can be served at this point, preferably at slightly cooler than room temperature. Or, cover them tightly and refrigerate for 4 or 5 days. To freeze the mushrooms, transfer them and their liquid to an airtight container and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw and allow them to come to room temperature before serving or using in another dish.


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This page created June 2010