The Urchin Arrival

About 6 or 7 years ago I started this website and it was merely a hint of its former self. It wasn’t really a site yet, but more of an idea and, believe it or not, a list of Japanese restaurants and food stores in New York and Connecticut, complete with submitted reviews (and mine as well). One day, I’d like to re-include such features (and expand the geography) but the reason that I mention this is that I had links to mail order seafood places.

One day I received an email from a small diving operation in Maine that sold Sea Urchin (uni) fresh from the sea. They asked me if I would include a link to their homepage and in return, they would ship me a few urchins. I jumped at the chance since I wouldn’t have to make any false statements of credibility, just post a link. A no-brainer, IMHO.

A day later I received a large box via FedEx, and inside were tons, and I mean tons of urchins, all wiggly and spiky. I couldn’t believe how many there were. Too many for me, that’s for sure, so I headed over to my cousin’s and we had a party. Opening urchins is no easy task, you need gloves so you don’t get poked, and you need to cut them open properly to scoop out the mustard colored goop inside. We made a large pot of sushi rice and got to work.

The Urchin Analysis

Fresh uni is really the most amazing thing. The stuff you get in a good sushi-ya is great too, but eating it while it’s still alive (sounds gross, but you do it with oysters and clams too) is a whole different experience. It tastes like the sea, fecund and salty, and there are no interruptions. It really blew my mind and the texture was perfect. It held together just long enough to make you know what you are eating, unlike the uni that often becomes too soft after sitting in the restaurant for a while. Or after having been shipped across the country or further, frozen and thawed.

It actually had a really interesting texture, something I never realized, as I am used to uni being more of a paste-like consistency. This is not to say that it had a firm texture, but right out of the shell it was still completely hydrated and rich with flavor. I have never since had the opportunity (meaning bottomless wallet) to gorge myself on uni and I may never again.

I still order it when I go out, but I always remember how good it was only minutes old when I did the work myself. I believe there are places to order urchins online still, but I haven’t checked recently. I’m starting to get myself excited again, though.

Warren Ransom

I have always been fascinated by the creation and culture of different foods, particularly sushi and sashimi in the modern era of Japanese cuisine. I am a classically trained chef and sushi connoisseur, also having operated a food service company and enjoy investigating and experimenting with food around the world.

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