For radical, rebellious and world-renowned chef David Chang, the mastermind behind the Momofuku empire, there is one ingredient that is so obscure and seemingly unappetizing — even to Chang’s standards — that he’s apparently rendered it off the table (pardon the pun).
Meet the shape-shifting sea cucumber, an edible scavenger that crawls along soft bottoms near coral reefs and seagrass beds, ingesting delectable bits of sand and mud lying along its path.
In the digestion process, it filters out any plant or animal matter and leaves behind a trail of clean sand, similarly to a vacuum cleaner.
Sea cucumbers, a type of marine invertebrate closely related to sea urchins and sea stars, are also known for their charming and charismatic characteristic of providing food and housing for pearlfish within the dark and quiet safety of … their anuses.
But despite its less than appealing offer of anus housing, and perhaps to the surprise of Chang, sea cucumbers offer a ton of health benefits when consumed!
For example, they are not only higher in protein (at 55 percent) than most other foods, but are lower in fat than most, too. And, according to traditional Chinese medicine, sea cucumbers can also nourish the blood, treat kidney disorders and help with constipation and frequent urination.
So! The next time anyone asks “Why would anyone eat this?” like our dear David Chang did, feel free to ramble off the health benefits above. Oh, and offer up the possibility of hitting the jackpot and finding a pearlfish tucked in there.
For the brave-hearted only, here’s a lesson on prepping these babies: