After a long day diving I brought home a few red sea urchins and ate them for dinner. Urchin “roe”, more accurately labeled urchin gonad, is a popular delicacy in sushi restaurants, it shows up under the name of uni and the price is usually set at M.P. aka expensive. To the uninitiated with a standard western palette uni, when served, is usually considered at best unappetizing. To those with an open mind who take the time to develop a taste for this unique flavor uni is not only delicious but quite literally intoxicating. The gonad of the red sea urchin, as well other species of urchin, contains a chemical known as anandamide. Anandamide acts upon the brain’s cannabinoid receptors, if one eats enough Uni they can become intoxicated in a manner similar to having consumed marijuana. The question remains, how much Uni must one consume to get high? And that remains a subject for your personal experimentation or for another of my posts.
When preparing Uni for dinner, it is always best to start with the freshest possible urchin. If you live on the western side of the Americas then you have access to both purple urchin and red urchin. Purple urchin can be found in intertidal zones, they are smaller, less prized, and easily harvested at low tide while keeping one’s clothes dry. Red Urchin are the most sought after, they are much larger, and they are usually found in deeper waters within kelp forests. I often times take several red urchin when I dive for abalone on the north coast of California, they make for an easily prepared and delicious dinner when I get home.
Here is How I prepare them:
Step 1: Start with a fresh red urchin, preferably alive and still wiggling, with a large knife crack the echinoderm in half.
Step 2: Dump out the Urchin’s stomach contents and then use a spoon to carefully scrape along the inside of the shell freeing the bright gold “roe”. Place the 5 gonads of the urchin into a bowl of salt water.
Step 3: Gently remove any filaments attached to the roe and rinse off any left over undigested kelp, take the cleaned pieces out and place them on a plate lined with a paper towel, let them dry a little, then serve them over rice and wrapped in seaweed, dip them in soy mixed with wasabi.