Dried sea cucumbers: An expensive and exotic delicacy

Dried sea cucumbers on display at a shop in Pudu, Kuala Lumpur.
Dried sea cucumbers on display at a shop in Pudu, Kuala Lumpur. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Imported dried sea cucumbers, a luxurious delicacy during Chinese New Year reunion dinners, can fetch up to RM3,200 (S$1,016) per kg at traditional medicine stores.

Depending on their size and origin, the dried sea cucumbers, or hai shen in Mandarin, cost between RM760 and RM3,200 per kg at stores in Petaling Jaya.

The cheapest is the finger-sized South African tu shen while the most expensive is the arm-sized Australian tu shen.

Hai shen from Australia is considered the best among Malaysians but those looking for cheaper choices opt for alternatives from other countries, said a shopkeeper who declined to be named.

 

Larger forms of South African tu shen sell from RM1,555 to RM2,300 per kg, compared to different sizes of the Australian variety that start at RM1,600 per kg.

Retiree Irene Lim, 72, said she buys 1kg of dried sea cucumber a year for her family of five.

"I cook it once every three or four months, during special occasions like Chinese New Year and ancestors' prayers," she said.

Her favourite types are imported from Australia and Papua New Guinea.

She buys these from wholesalers for RM800 to RM1,200 per kg.

Five years ago, she used to buy them for RM600 to RM700 per kg.

She said the Chinese believe dried sea cucumber can cure arthritis.