Do you love to eat sea urchin sushi?
And do you know to choose, prepare and enjoy fresh sea urchin best?
Whether you are a seasoned sea urchin lover or a curious beginner, let me help you discover the wonders of this unique seafood.
Sea urchins are one of the most intriguing and delicious delicacies of the ocean.
They are spiny, round creatures that live on the seafloor and feed on algae, coral and other organic matter. Sea urchins have a soft, creamy and rich flesh that is often compared to custard, butter or even foie gras. They are also a great source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, iron, and zinc.
But how exactly do you eat sea urchin best?
And what do they taste like after all?
Let me go over these questions with.
I’ll tell you how to choose, prepare and enjoy sea urchins.
What are sea urchins?
Sea urchins are echinoderms.
That means they belong to the same phylum as starfish, sand dollars, and sea cucumbers. They have a hard shell called a test that is covered with movable spines that protect them from predators and help them move around.
Inside the test, there are five sections of edible flesh called roe or gonads. These are the reproductive organs of the sea urchin and the part that we eat.
Sea urchins come in different colors, shapes, and sizes. Some of the most common varieties are:
- Purple sea urchin: This is the most widely available type of sea urchin in North America. It has a dark purple or black shell and spines that can grow up to four inches long. The roe is light yellow or orange and has a mild, sweet flavor.
- Red sea urchin: This is the largest type of sea urchin in the world. It can reach up to eight inches in diameter and has a bright red or orange shell and spines. The roe is dark orange or red and has a rich, nutty flavor.
- Green sea urchin: This is a smaller type of sea urchin that is found in colder waters. It has a green or brown shell and spines that are shorter and sharper than other types. The roe is pale green or yellow and has a delicate, briny flavor.
How to choose sea urchins
When buying sea urchins, you want to look for fresh, live ones that are firm and heavy for their size.
Avoid any that are cracked, broken, or smell bad. You can also check the freshness by gently squeezing the shell. If it feels soft or squishy, it means the sea urchin is old or dead.
You can buy sea urchins from seafood markets, specialty stores, or online vendors.
You can also find them at some sushi restaurants or Japanese grocery stores. If you are feeling adventurous, you can even harvest your own sea urchins from the ocean if you have the right equipment and permits.
How to store sea urchins
You can eat sea urchin best as soon as possible after buying or harvesting them.
However, if you need to store them for later use, you can keep them in the refrigerator for up to two days. Place them in a bowl or tray with some damp paper towels or seaweed and cover them loosely with plastic wrap.
Do not wash them or remove the spines until you are ready to eat them.
You should look for a reputable seafood market or restaurant that sells fresh and high-quality sea urchin. You can also order sea urchin online from some specialty stores.
Make sure to store sea urchin properly in the refrigerator and consume it within a few days of purchase. Sea urchin can spoil quickly and cause food poisoning if not handled well.
How to prepare sea urchins
To eat sea urchin, you need to crack open their shells and scoop out their roe.
This may sound intimidating, but it is actually quite easy once you get the hang of it. Here are the steps to follow:
- Rinse the sea urchins under cold water to remove any dirt or debris.
- Cut off the spines with kitchen scissors or a sharp knife. Be careful not to cut yourself or damage the shell.
- Find the mouth of the sea urchin, which is a small hole on the bottom of the shell.
- Insert a spoon or a knife into the mouth and twist it gently to pry open the shell.
- Use the spoon or knife to scrape off any unwanted parts inside the shell, such as black membranes, white tubes, or brown liquid.
- Carefully lift out the roe with the spoon or knife and place it in a bowl or on a plate.
How to eat sea urchin
Sea urchin can be eaten raw or cooked, depending on your preference.
Some people like to eat sea urchin fresh from the shell, with a squeeze of lemon juice or soy sauce. Others prefer to cook sea urchin lightly, such as by steaming, baking, or frying.
You can also find sea urchin in dishes like sushi, pasta, risotto, or soup.
There are many ways to enjoy and eat sea urchin.
Here are some of the most popular methods:
- Raw: This is the simplest and most authentic way to eat sea urchins. Just sprinkle some salt and lemon juice over the roe and savor it with a spoon or your fingers. You can also dip some bread or crackers into the roe for a more filling snack.
- Sushi: This is one of the most common ways to eat sea urchins in Japan. The roe is placed on top of a small ball of vinegared rice and wrapped with a thin sheet of seaweed. You can dip the sushi in some soy sauce and wasabi for extra flavor.
- Pasta: This is a classic Italian way to eat sea urchins. The roe is mixed with some olive oil, garlic, parsley, and red pepper flakes and tossed with cooked spaghetti or linguine. You can also add some cheese, cream, or butter for a creamier sauce.
- Soup: This is a warming and comforting way to eat sea urchins. The roe is blended with some chicken or vegetable broth, cream, and seasonings and heated until smooth and frothy. You can garnish the soup with some croutons, chives, or caviar for extra texture and flavor.
So then, how does sea urchin really taste?
The number one question.
The edible part of sea urchin is called uni, which is the gonads or reproductive organs of the animal. Uni has a rich, creamy texture and a briny, sweet flavor that some people compare to oysters or caviar.
Sea urchin is not only delicious, but also nutritious.
It is high in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, zinc, and vitamin A. However, it is also high in cholesterol and sodium, so you should eat it in moderation and avoid it if you have high blood pressure or heart problems.
Sea urchin is a delicacy that many people enjoy around the world. It has a unique taste and texture that will surprise and delight your palate.
Ready to eat sea urchin?
You might discover a new favorite food that you will love!