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Feb 11, 2009 05:49 AM

Sea Urchin Roe

Chefs go crazy for it.

I have tried it a couple times at fairly nice sushi resturants, and found it not great.
Sort of fishy with a strange texture...

Did i get poor quality both times? What am i missing?

Is it one of those things thats amazing when fresh but horrible when just normal?

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  1. It's something that does need to be fresh, yes but what kind of seafood isn't better when fresh?

    First, you can buy the sea urchin roe/uni just like the restaurant can. Assuming there's a respectable Asian market around you somewhere, they will likely carry it. So, quality of the product is issue #1. If it's not good to start with, it's not going to get any better just because some sushi chef put it on a plate for you. Point is, just because it's a "nice" sushi restaurant and you pay more there than an average sushi restaurant, doesn't mean that the product will be any better.

    Second, if texture is an issue for you, try something else and don't expect to like uni.

    Third, the taste is going to be "of the sea", while that can possibly be described as somewhat fishy, it should not be overpowering and rank smelling. If it is, review item #1. Oysters are a good benchmark here; oysters should have a fresh, clean smell and taste, but they will also be briny and have a delicate ocean taste to them. If that's "fishy" to you then, yes, that's what uni will taste like. So while oysters and uni do not taste the same, the measure of freshness/quality can be thought of in the same terms.

    3 Replies
    1. re: HaagenDazs


      I do love oysters, abalone, clams, muscles and so on, almost all seafood in fact. so an "of the sea" flavor does not bother me.

      I think the texture was just alarming when it comes with a bad flavor. I would compare it to if you were to puree canned tuna in a blender or something.

      Seems like both times i just must have recieved sub-par quality product.
      Maybe i will give sea urchin another try....

      1. re: Amidahidan

        Who knows. I think the texture is going to be pretty close to what you described. Wet, fluffy, creamy all at the same time. Kind of custard-y. Obviously the fact that you like oysters, you can't be completely turned off by texture! ;-)

        If you're really interested in trying to find quality, find a sushi chef that will talk to you about their business. If he/she is a stickler for quality then you're probably in a good spot. If not, then look elsewhere.

        At one restaurant I like to visit, I've seen the head sushi chef pull out a whole side of tuna to prep it, cut into it, and then essentially toss it. He wasn't going to use it because it wasn't up to his level of quality. He didn't actually throw it away in the garbage - he was going to have a few choice words with his supplier and show it to him - but it wasn't going to be served in his restaurant. That's a very good thing to see, of course! When I asked him if he had any other favorite sushi restaurants, he said that there were only 2 or 3 others in the entire city of Atlanta that he would visit. This was because he felt that they were as particular about the quality of fish as he was.

        1. re: HaagenDazs

          What are the sushi restaurants in Atlanta did he say and what restaurant did this chef work at?

    2. Even if you get it fresh (and by fresh, I mean while diving off the california coast), some taste better than others, and not everybody cares for it.

        1. sea urchin is one of my favourite things. Amazing sushi, or as spaghetti a la ricci di mare..

          I was lucky enough to eat uni in Hokkaido, Japan, one of the best places to have it, and apparently they put some kind of preservative on the uni when sold in cities away from the sea.. The closer you have it to the source, the less preservative they add.. So needless to say, I was in heaven when I had uni in Hokkaido..

          1. When fresh WONDERFUL,Vancouver area,sea kayak,shallow water,pocket knife and infant's spoon,so very tasty.
            Put it in a ?box or ship it and I'll pass.It's just not the same thing to me.

            1 Reply
            1. re: lcool

              when vacationing on the Big Island we saw hundreds upon hundreds of sea urchin while snorkeling. My hubby and I are huge uni fans so the first thing we thought of when we saw them was harvesting a few and eating them (probably illegal, but shhh...). That first night we hopped on the internet to look up how to open them. When we realized we would have to cut out a moving "face" in order to open it we decided to go out to a sushi restaurant for our uni fix. I regret not going for it because they probably would have been amazing!