Prep the sea cucumbers (fresh, dried and frozen require different methods of preparations) then cook in seasoned mushroom soaking water with the shiitake. Add starch solution to thicken the reduced liquid. Chinese-style braised sea cucumbers and shiitake mushrooms make a delicious starter course.

Chinese-style Braised Sea Cucumbers and Shiitake Mushrooms

Course Appetizer
Cuisine Chinese
Keyword sea cucumber, shiitake
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Soaking time for mushrooms 30 minutes
Total Time 28 minutes
Servings 4
Author Connie Veneracion


  • 10 to 12 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 300 grams sea cucumbers (click the link for instructions on preparation)
  • 6 to 8 slices ginger divided
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic peeled and smashed
  • 1 to 2 shallots peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tapioca starch or corn starch
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame seed oil
  • 1 head broccoli broken into florets and blanched in salted water


Prep the shiitake

  • Place the shiitake mushrooms in a bowl and pour in warm water. Soak for 15 minutes, flip them over and soak for 15 minutes more (soaking them for as long as three hours won't hurt).
  • Snip off the stems of the shiitake and discard. Cut the caps into halves if large. You want bite-size pieces.
  • Strain the liquid in which the mushrooms have soaked. You will need about three cups.

Pre-cook the sea cucumbers

  • While the shiitake mushrooms rehydrate, rinse the sea cucumbers and make sure the cavities are clean.
  • Drop the sea cucumbers into a pot, add half of the ginger and cover with water. Bring to the boil, lower the heat, cover the pot and cook the sea cucumbers with the ginger for 15 to 20 minutes to remove the strong fishy odor. 
  • Drain the sea cucumbers, rinse under the tap (or plunge in an ice bath) then cut into bite-size pieces.

Braise the sea cucumbers and shiitake

  • Heat the cooking oil in a wok or frying pan.
  • Saute the remaining ginger, all of the garlic and shallot(s) in the oil until fragrant.
  • Turn up the heat. Add the shiitake and sea cucumbers. Stir fry until every piece is coated with oil.
  • Reserve a quarter cup of the mushroom liquid and pour the rest into the wok with the sea cucumbers and mushrooms.
  • Stir in the soy sauce, pepper, sugar and oyster sauce. Bring to the boil. Set the heat to low, cover the wok and cook the sea cucumbers and mushrooms until tender and the liquid is reduced to less than half.
  • Stir the starch in the reserved mushroom liquid.
  • Pour the starch solution into the wok. Cook, stirring, until the sauce is thick and clear. Taste. Add salt, as needed.
  • Off the heat, drizzle in the sesame seed oil and toss everything to blend.

Assemble the dish

  • Arrange the blanched broccoli florets on one side of a serving platter. Ladle your delicious Chinese-style braised sea cucumbers and shiitake mushrooms, with the sauce, on the opposite side.
  • Serve at once.