If sea urchin isn’t already on your dinnertime radar, it absolutely should be – it’s so much more than your standard sushi fare.
Healthy, sustainable, local, and in season October to March, sea urchin (also known as uni) is delicious and can add something exciting and unexpected to your dinner plate. From sea urchin and crab fried rice, to sea urchin pasta with uni miso butter, the options are endless.
Ultimately, sea urchin may seem intimidating as a cooking option in your own home, but that shouldn’t be the case.
“People don’t need to be afraid. It’s a sustainable, healthy, local product that you should try and eat,” Jenice Yu, owner of Fresh Ideas Start Here told Vancity Buzz.
“With sea urchin I think a lot of people find they must eat it raw because that’s what Japanese cuisine has always used it for, but in fact, there’s so many ways you can use it.”
A quick scan of the Fresh Ideas Start Here website shows a plethora of uni recipe options to satisfy any palette. Sea urchin has a brine-y flavour and a rich, creamy texture that, when served with salmon roe, becomes even richer.
And if the flavour isn’t enough to convince you, the health and environmental benefits should be.
“It’s a great source of protein, rich in dietary fibre, vitamin C and A,” said Yu.
“And more importantly, catching and eating sea urchin reduces the herbivore pressure on kelp, allowing the kelp ecosystem to thrive and keep growing without having too much sea urchin consuming it.”
Since we’re in the heart of sea urchin season during these colder months , many Vancouver restaurants are featuring their own unique uni dishes that will be offered at various times throughout the winter.
Chef Josh Blumenthal at Bishop’s restaurant will be whipping up some tasty creations such as sea urchin veloute with Helmer’s potato, uni, and giant kelp brioche.
Over at Maenam, Chef Angus An is serving up an ahi toro and uni creation served on a spot prawn cracker. The richness of the toro and uni is offset by the crunch of the cracker – it’s perfection.
He’s also offering a Hor Mok Uni, which is steamed curry mousse with uni.
And West Restaurant’s chef Quang Dang is offering patrons a charred uni dish with smoked salmon and hen eggs salad. If you’re feeling adventurous, he’s even offering a dessert option: uni pain perdu with passionfruit tapioca.
Every restaurant will be serving the dishes at various times throughout the season, so call ahead to find out if these are available.
Unleash your adventurous side and get into the uni spirit while it’s in season. Visit Fresh Ideas Start Here at 180-7515 Market Xing, Burnaby and grab a tray of prepared raw uni for $20. Smoked options are also available for $25.