You can easily distinguish one if you’re out snorkelling and you’ll know if you tread on one! Some sea urchins are small like the size of a ping-pong ball and some are large like water melons with spikes that are several inches long. Here at Sea Urchin Harvest we catch the Centro urchin, which is a native species to the New South Wales Coast. They can grow unto 30cm in diameter and they are a dark purpler-red colour.
Sea Urchins have always been present in European cuisine, it has even been said that they were served at Hercule’s wedding to Hebe, the Greek goddess of youth. They are also a fine delicacy in Japanese cuisine, here they are commonly referred to as ‘uni’ and are more commonly served in sashimi style or in sushi!
The only edible part of the sea urchin is their ‘gonads’ or sex organs. These run along the inside of the shell. The taste of the sea urchin is most commonly described as delicate and musky. The flavour encompasses both sweet, salty and umami flavours and depending on the location where they are found, can have a signature taste. At Sea Urchin Harvest our Centro Urchins have maximum natural sweetness which is unique to the NSW South Coast. The texture of the Sea Urchin is smooth and will melt in your mouth!
The Sea Urchin Roe have a yellow to orange appearance and they have a bumpy surface that often resembles a tongue! The roe is most often served raw, however, they can be cooked and even pureed into a rich velvety sauce.
Like all seafood products, it is important to eat Sea Urchin when it is fresh! Using your smell you can distinguish whether the Sea Urchin is fresh.
If you are cooking with small sea urchins, the best way to approach is with a tough pair of kitchen scissors to chop around the ‘equator’ of the urchin. When cooking with a larger sea urchin, it is typical to poke one end and then follow by cutting a little circle out of the bottom of the shell, this helps to keep most of the sea urchin shell intact.
Now is the time to drain any dark coloured liquid and remove using a spoon, any brown or black substances inside the shell. By now you can see that preparation is methodical and important! All Sea Urchins are symmetrical creatures with five yellow gonads running up the inner wall of raw shell. Now is the time to rinse out the shell if you need a clearer view.
Using a spoon, carefully scrape the gonads off the walk and rinse them with fresh or salty water. If you aren’t planning on consuming your sea urchins immediately, it’s important to ensure that they remain chilled and are eaten as soon as possible.
When thinking in terms of flavour pairing, you should interpret sea urchin as you would caviar. Both sea urchin and caviar have delicate notes with salty-oceanic flavours. Sea Urchin is commonly spread on a biscuit or piece of toast to illustrate the flavours with no interferences. In Japanese cuisine sea urchin is commonly used to top plain nigiri sushi or stirred into plain noodles. In Italy, sea urchin is typically stirred through a bowl of tagliatelle.
Although sea urchin is an intriguing ingredient to use when cooking, it is possibly the best when eaten in its purest form - straight from the shell!
About Sea Urchin Harvest
Sea Urchin Harvest sells premium Sea Urchin Uni & Sea Urchin Roe from Australia’s iconic east coast. All of our Uni is caught fresh and delivered fresh to you! If you have any questions about ordering Sea Urchin Uni for your commercial business please get in contact via the Contact Us Page or alternatively call us on 0414 441 136.