The sea urchin, also known as uni, is a delicacy that is a significant part of the Japanese people’s tradition. They inhabit rocks and corals on the bottom of the ocean. You might be thinking that anything covered in black, sharp spikes which can cause excruciating pain when stepped on is not something you’d like to have as a meal. But the sea urchin has gone past its reputation of ruining your perfect snorkel trip and is now loved by chefs around the world, as they have become popular additions to numerous tasty menus worldwide. So what does sea urchin taste like? If you’re thinking about jumping on the bandwagon and want to confirm if sea urchin or uni is indeed worth the hype, you have come to the right place. Continue reading as this article will help you answer your burning questions about this delicacy, specifically regarding its taste.
What Does Sea Urchin Taste Like
Sea urchin tastes a bit briny, but not exceedingly salty. You know a sea urchin is fresh when it has a hint of a sweet flavor, even an ocean aftertaste with a zinc and iron taste left on the tongue. It has a strong, mineral and seaweed taste as well, and its texture should be creamy. It’s almost like a mix of sublime butter and custard in your mouth. This ultra fine texture gives sea urchin a taste like foie gras. On the other hand, you will know if the uni is a bit on the old side if it feels slimy on the tongue and if it has a bitter aftertaste.
Is Sea Urchin Dangerous to Eat?
It may be extremely difficult to harvest, but is sea urchin dangerous to eat? Consider yourself hooked, because it is not dangerous to eat them.. The single part that you can eat on them though, is the gonads.
The gonads are also where roe comes from. Sea urchin roe is an amazing delicacy that offers a unique taste, which makes it one of the most sought-after seafood roes.
The good news for people who like to have it simple? You can also eat the gonads raw, with little to no additives. Why is this seafood in high demand, you ask? Because of its numerous health benefits. Here are some of them:
- This sea food aids in weight loss
- Contains calcium, iodine, Vitamin A, and Vitamin E
- Allows for proper blood circulation
- A good source of fiber
- Contains large amounts of protein
- Low in fat carbohydrates
- This sea food is also an amazing aphrodisiac
How to Eat Sea Urchin
Sea urchin can be enjoyed in different ways — raw or combined with other prepared dishes. Because of its delicate taste, sea urchin or uni is best served with neutral-flavored foods, just like toast or pasta.
There are varied ways on how to eat sea urchin. But the most common way people prefer is by eating it raw. Imagine sushi and oysters.
If you like to apply your own touch on improving its natural flavor, you can try adding lemon or butter on it. This is usually how chefs do it as they like to add uni or sea urchin to add a twist to different course meals.
Keep in mind, however, that you should always be careful in choosing the sea urchins you eat. If you prefer to dive down the sea to get your own sea urchin, make sure to pick ones that have hints of red, purple, and green on them.
Even though in photographs, you often see them in pitch black color, these black sea urchins are only good for decoration purposes or it might only be a result of bad lighting.
You might want to go for the green ones, as they are the best sea urchins for consumption.
How to Cook Sea Urchin
Want to be more adventurous and discover the whole process yourself? You can buy live sea urchins whole and tear it open at home. The first thing you should do is poke the sea urchin on the underside with a pair of shears or a knife. Cut the shell, then break it open, drain it, and slice out the roe. If you want to be creative and impress some guests, you can also serve the roe out of the sea urchin’s spiky shell.
Another alternative on how to cook sea urchin is to just keep it plain and simple. You can start with just the roe and have it raw with minced fresh green onion and ponzu sauce. If you prefer trying it with your favorite local dish, you can also apply your own touch and mix it with a food native to your hometown.
Top Tips for Eating Sea Urchin
- Japanese sake and white wine make for great companions to raw sea urchin and prepared dishes combined with it.
- A sea urchin’s sting is painful, but it’s not deadly. Make sure that the wound is always clean to be free from infection.
- The majority of sea urchins are eaten alive to guarantee freshness.
- Like oysters, it is an aphrodisiac.
Every first timer to the sea urchin or uni dishes will ask themselves, “What does sea urchin taste like?” It is perfectly normal! But we highly suggest that you do not dwell on it too much, or become intimidated with its sharp spikes. You will surely love the delicacy and the unique flavors it can offer, the very reason why it is loved by many chefs and food enthusiasts around the world. Find a great sushi joint near you, talk with the sushi chef and try to know more about the freshness of the sea urchin they have, and where it was harvested. The insides of this prickly, strange sea creature will have you wanting for more because of its rich flavors. It is undoubtedly one of the greatest culinary discoveries ever made, and I’m sure you’ll understand why once you get to have a taste of this lovely delicacy!