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What Does Sea Urchin (Uni) Taste Like? [Definitive Guide]

Sea Urchin, also known as uni, is a traditional Japenese delicacy.

They are shaped in a ball with pointy spikes across its body. They live on rocks and coral on the ocean seabed.

If you’re thinking about trying it, this article will cover what sea urchin, or uni, tastes like and answers common questions relating to its taste.

What Does Sea Urchin Taste Like?

Sea Urchin has a fantastic yet delicate blend of a sweet and briny taste. Although you can find sea urchin all over the world, the Japanese made it famous as a dish.

This unique taste has a sumptuous umani under-taste, which gives it all the richness it needs. There is also a trace taste of the sea that makes it taste similar to caviar.

Also, sea urchin’s flavour unfurls in your mouth. It has a textured creamy mouthful. Its dominant texture is like a mix of custard and sublime butter in the mouth.

This subtle texture makes sea urchin taste just like foie gras. It also tastes like balut, especially the “eggy” part.

Several factors can affect the flavour of the sea urchin, some of which are;

  • Age

To get the best of what sea urchin tastes like, you need to eat it fresh. You can get it fresh from any reputable seafood market near you.

If the sea urchin has been caught for a while, it starts to taste bitter. Older ones also have a metallic taste, with an aroma like ammonia and slimy.

  • Location

Sea urchins exist in different oceans across the world. This difference in location influences the flavours due to the available food sources for the animal.

For example, Sea urchins on the West Coast of the USA have a thick, yet creamy texture. In comparison, those on the East Coast have the characteristic strong brine flavour and firmer texture.

  • Recipe

The recipe you prepare the sea urchin with also influences its flavour. 

You can add different ingredients to the dish. For instance, the presence of lemon enhances the natural taste of sea urchins.

This variety in taste goes for ingredients like fish, summer veggies, etc. You can also add side-dishes, which will undoubtedly influence the overall feeling. 

Is Sea Urchin Dangerous to Eat?

Harvesting sea urchins can be extremely difficult, but they are not dangerous to eat. The only part of the sea urchin you can eat is the gonads.

The gonads also produce the roe. Sea urchin roe is a delicacy, but one with an acquired taste. The flavour and texture are unique, making it one of the best seafood roes.

You can eat the gonads raw, with little or no additives. This seafood is in high demand because of its health benefits. Some of these health benefits are;

  • It contains an ample amount of protein
  •  It serves as a good fibre source
  • The seafood provides you with vitamin A, vitamin E, iodine and even calcium
  • It also allows for proper circulation of blood
  • Sea urchin helps with weight loss.
  • This food is also a fantastic aphrodisiac.
  • Sea urchins are low in fat carbohydrates, providing just 125 calories per piece.   

What Part of the Sea Urchin Do You Eat?

The gonads are the part of the sea urchin that is edible. These gonads produce the roe, which many people enjoy too.

The gonad is mainly served at sushi restaurants, and it is usually raw. Its taste and texture of the gonad make it very versatile in culinary.

The Uni — sea urchin’s gonad — has become popular among foodies all over the world. It used to feature in Japanese restaurants only, but has grown to become a major dish that connoisseurs drool over. 

How to Eat Sea Urchin?

You can either eat the sea urchin dish raw or with other prepared dishes.

It has a very delicate taste, which makes it best to eat it with taste-neutral dishes. The seafood’s flavour is so fragile, it is challenging to describe. 

Most people simply term its flavour profile as sweet and subtle.

The most common way people enjoy sea urchin is by eating it raw. This is just like how you will enjoy oysters or sushi.

To improve on its natural flavour, you can add butter or lemon. Many chefs use sea urchins to add a twist to course meals.

For chefs in the Mediterranean, adding it to pasta is a common practice. Other cuisines serve it with butter or toast.

You should, however, be careful of the sea urchin you eat. Eating a bad one can give you a bad experience with the delicacy.

The best sea urchins for consumption is the green one. Hence, ask specifically for this variety.

How to Prepare Sea Urchin?

Ensure you eat your sea urchins fresh for every mealtime. 

If you are catching the sea urchin by yourself, protect your hand from the spikes with gloves. Take your time before picking it up from the sea.

When you pick the urchin, create a puncture in the underside. You can do this with scissors or a spoon.

Then allow the liquid in it to drain, before cutting a circle in the underside. When you make this hole, remove the black pieces in it.

The black internals are not to be eaten. Properly rinse them out with running water. When you do this, gently remove the orange tongue-like parts.

To consume, separate the orange meat from the wall of the shell.

There are always five orange pieces in this shell, which are the reproductive organs. However, they always taste differently. 

You can do this either with your finger or utensils. Eat with butter or lemon to fully savour its flavour. 

To Sum Up

“What does sea urchin taste like?” is a common question. If it is your first time eating the delicacy, you might be sceptical.

However, eating sea urchin is a unique experience. The flavour and texture are unprecedentedly rich.

For food lovers, the sea urchin is an amazing culinary discovery. Try out the sea urchin dish today. You might just love it too!