End Your Week With the Grossest Key Ingredient Ever

Photo: courtesy Reader

The Reader’s chef’s challenge Key Ingredient series (for which we are videographer) has faced down many icky ingredients which are, nonetheless, eaten by humans somewhere, from bull testicles to bamboo worms to eels. Still, on a purely visual and visceral level, we’re not sure anything has ever been as instantly repulsive as sea cucumbers, which are nonetheless not only a delicacy in Japan but eaten around the world, from Spain to South America. They have a weird talent, which is, yes, when active (or parboiled) they resemble a cucumber with gooey insides, but when inactive or frightened, they are pretty much all gooey insides, a plate of flat mucusy yuck that is, all the same, strangely beautiful… as long as it’s not going in your mouth. But chef Matthias Merges of Yusho was familiar with them from his study of Asian cuisine, so see how he made them— barely— palatable below. [Reader]