Aka Uni/Red Sea Urchin Roe
Sea urchins, or uni/海栗in Japanese, are popular in many countries, but maybe not as much as in Japan!
The situation sometimes is becoming ridiculous as time and again Chinese and North Korrean ships are caught poaching sea urchins in the Japan seas to export them later to Japan!
There are many kinds of sea urchins, some great, some barely acceptable, and many inedible.
I will keep this posting to the most popular ones in Japan.
Ezobafun-uni, or Kaze, or Kanze are best appreciated in Spring.
Most are caught off Hokkaido.
As its name in Japanese says (Sea Chestnut), when fresh it has a firm texture and tastes like chestnuts.
Its roe is a beautiful orange.
Beware of imported copies that don’t mely in your mouth!
Beautiful as sushi nigiri or gunkan!
Appearing on the markets between early Summer and Atumn, domestic specimen come from Hokkaido (12,000 tonnes).
Please note the different colour, more yellowish.
It is widely imported from Russia (6.200 tonnes), USA (2,600 tonnes), Chili (2,100 tonnes), Canada (800 tonnes) and Kora (300 tonnes).
Great as sushi nigiri!
Good quality specimens should be firm, with a definite shape, and leave a yellow colour inside its box or on chopsticks!
Chili-Uni/Sea Urchin from Chili is considered as the best imported sea urchin in Japan and merits a special mention.
Beautiful served as sushi gunkan!
Aka-uni/Red sea Urchin, although of a lower grade, is considered a choice morsel.
Aka uni roe, some of which will find its way in the following dishes!
SEA URCHIN DISHES
There are countless ways of cooking and using sea urchins!
The following are just suggestions.
Uni Chyawan Mushi
Cold Pepperocino Sea Urchin Spaghetti
Sea Urchi Gratin in its shell
Another Sea Urchin Gratin in its shell.
Sea Urchin Pilaf
Uni-Renkon: Sea Urchin cooked inside slices of Lotus roots
Sea Urchin Shou-mai
Sea Urchi Tofu and Avocado Millefeuille
Sea Urchin and Tofu Soup