A few weeks ago in this post, I wrote about a short jaunt to Steveston where Kyle and I picked up some sea urchin from the boats on the dock. What I didn’t mention is that I hadn’t ever even seen a sea urchin before. These funny little creatures have a sharp, spiny shell and would appear to be inedible to the naked eye, but the roe of the little beasts are found in Japanese sushi and in cuisines of other cultures, such as Korea and Chile.
What I find even more disgusting is that it isn’t the roe at all, but the organs that produce the roe – the gonads. Gross!
Five strips of uni reside within the structure of the urchin, a yellowish or orange substance resembling a rather firm custard. Aside from the initial collection of sea urchins, they then must be cracked and cleaned of the uni, which is then meticulously cleaned in turn. Kyle took on this task as it was just a little too gross for me, but I watched and took photos, and that counts.
Kyle Writes: Cleaning the Urchin
Do this job outside. Be careful as the spines can hurt your hands. Some people wear gloves. I didn’t.
1. Take a large knife and crack an X on the Urchin shell on the underside. Hit more gently than you think you should.
2. Carefully separate the pieces of shell.
3. Extract the pieces of yellow or orange Uni and place on a plate.
5. Mix a pot of very cold salt water. A tablespoon-ish of salt in 4L water should do. Ocean water is better.
6. Take each piece of Uni and individually wash each one very gently in the salt water.
Kyle made a delicious pasta sauce from the roe, having 5 urchins all to ourselves was way too much to eat raw. I’ll post the recipe later. As I’m writing this, I can’t imagine that there is anyone following this blog who will ever need this information since my family is lacking in the adventurous eater category. But, it’s a fascinating process nonetheless.