Abalone & Sea Cucumber

On Friday my dearest Veronica asked me to help serve and prep for Treasures of the Sea: An Exclusive Tasting Event highlighting two exotic seafood ingredients: Sea Cucumber and Abalone. The dried versions of these coveted delicacies are exorbitantly expensive and nearly impossible to find in the US. It was prepared for emperors and high-ranking officials during the Confucius era. They are still considered treasures in Asia as a reflection of wealth and prosperity, however the common taste of the common man demand the sharing and distribution of Abalone and Sea Cucumber to enjoy in their country and dinner plate.

Veronica’s mom Wendy Chan, a marketing consultant who’ve landed multiple gigs promoting the wonderful world of Asian food (can she be my mom too?), brought together the finest producers and importers of these unique delicacies and asked chef Kian Lam Kho (he used to sell awesome pork buns at Greenpoint Food Market) to create a six course tasting menu. I jumped on the opportunity to garb myself as a spiffy waitress (happy halloween!) server and lay out 150 small plates six times. Here’s some of what I got to gorge on before, during, and after the event.

Clockwise from left:

Abalone, Ham and Mushroom Bun Garnished with Scallion & Cilantro: I consumed at least three of these piping hot buns stuffed with meaty abalone & mushroom, its savory component topped off perfectly with the spice of cilantro. Unlike the guests of the event I had the advantage of soaking the bun with spoonfuls of abalone sauce.

Sliced Abalone and Pomegranate with Mustard Dressing: I didn’t get much of the pomegranate other than its crunch, the abalone was laced in mustardy dressing which reminded me of a Korean rice cake sprinkled with sweet rice flour.

Sticky Rice with Chicken, Abalone, Sea Cucumber & Chestnut Wrapped in Lotus Leaf: There were plenty of these laying around and we played hot potatoes in the kitchen, opening up the steaming rolls and like barbarians, ate them without utensils. Tastes were subtle and comforting, chewy and nourishing. Again, pouring Abalone juice on top and making a whole mess of it all was too much fun.

Sauteed Sea Cucumber with Reduction Sauce on Fried Taro Nest: I definitely favor abalone over sea cucumber, I still can’t figure out what it tastes like. It’s a bit bland and overtly chewy for me. Plus, they’re bugs! The gimmick to this plate is what made it genius: the taro nest were thin and brittle roasted fries whose crunch was waiting to be hydrated with a plastic tube filled with sauce. We took turns squirting it directly into our mouths. Naughty!

The last couple days I’ve gluttonously consumed more than my share of Abalone, whose exotic and rare qualities I took advantage of by eating it over and over again with a plain bowl of white rice. Thank you Veronica, Wendy, and Kian for letting me indulge in the treasures of the sea!!


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