If you aren’t yet familiar with uni, you’re missing out on a delectable treat. Often served in sushi restaurants atop a small batch of sushi rice, uni appears as a soft, delicate pat of butter. It has the texture to match, and a flavor akin to myriad oceanic dwellers such as lobster or oysters, depending upon where the particular sea urchin was harvested from.
In truth, it is somewhat hard to exactly describe the true flavor of uni. Moreover, while some love the rich umami experience this small delicacy provides, it is often an acquired taste.
Sushi isn’t the only way to introduce your palate to uni. Many chefs incorporate it into a variety of dishes and sauces, creating new and unique flavor profiles, and appealing to both foodies and those seeking culinary adventure. People also seek to consume uni because it is especially healthy, and slowly growing in popularity worldwide.
Where to Find It
The best place to find uni will be at an Asian supermarket. Typically, most of the uni is purchased by sushi restaurants, and because it is never frozen, it perishes shortly after being harvested. Subsequently, there is usually not much uni to spare for the public, unless you find it still inside a live sea urchin.
Cleaning, cracking open and removing the uni is a laborious process not for the unskilled. For now, try to find the one that is ready to eat and is for sale at the supermarket’s fishmonger.
Depending upon where the uni comes from, it will appear either orange or yellow in color. The bright color is the sign of freshness, and the pieces should be somewhat firm to the touch. Avoid any of them that appears to be leaking fluids.
Note: The majority of uni sold in the United States comes from California, but may also be from Maine, or Japan. When trying it, ask where it comes from — you’ll soon be able to figure out which region’s uni you prefer.
New Ways to Enjoy Uni Other Than Sushi
In today’s advanced technological age, the easiest way to find sea urchin recipes is on the internet, of course. Here are a few of note that have garnered excellent reviews from those that have tried them.
Risotto with Sea Urchin, Dill and Smoked Caviar
This decadent dish takes a classic risotto and elevates it to pure umami by adding uni into the recipe, along with a few other ingredients. It’s an impressive dish that’s sure to please. If you’ve already made risotto successfully, you shouldn’t have too much trouble with this recipe.
Linguine with Sea Urchin
Somewhat simpler but no less flavorful, this pasta recipe is also made all the more healthier with the addition of uni. You may never want pasta any other way.
Sea Urchin Sauce
This sea urchin sauce makes a rich accompaniment to many types of pasta, but you might also try it over seafood dishes, such as baked shrimp or even fish tacos. If you’re feeling truly adventurous, you’ll be surprised at how well the flavorful sauce mingles well with shredded pork.
Sea Urchin Bruschetta
This simple-to-prepare recipe offers rich, complex flavor, and is a great appetizer to serve guests at a cocktail party.
Sea Urchin Ceviche
This recipe puts a Latin twist on sea urchin. It delivers a tangy crispy salad that will set your taste buds popping while your tongue says “Wow!”
And if you’re dining out in New York City, be sure to try the “Uni Lover” dish at Wasan Brooklyn, or some of the sea urchin fare on the menu at SakaMai.