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Help Brainstorm an Uni-Centered Meal!

Pei Jan 4, 2010 10:54 PM

For years (seriously, years) my husband has dreamed of ordering a five pound sack of frozen uni from Catalina Offshore Products. They sell what's known as vana, which is uni that's too mushy to be served as sushi but still delicious for other uses: mousses, pasta, over rice, etc.


I haven't decided if I'm ready for the challenge, but I've been slowly hatching a plan to surprise him with an uni dinner party for his next birthday. three or four friends, a sack of vana, and my imagination.

So far, I know I want to make a creamy uni pasta, maybe with mushrooms.

I also thought a nice starter would be a very dry, almost salty cocktail. Not really actually salty, per se, but borderline savory and remniscent of the ocean. I'm not quite sure how to achieve that, it's just a thought!

And I once had an amazing uni custard; will have to recreate that or a uni mousse.

So that leaves me stumped on a starter (some kind of rainbow seaweed salad with light uni dressing, and/or a few slices of sashimi?) and a dessert (!?!


Not every single dish needs to have uni, but I'd like to include it throughout the meal. After all, I'm going to have five pounds of the stuff (no need to use it all at once though!) Any creative ideas greatly appreciated!

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  1. Tripeler RE: Pei Jan 5, 2010 12:13 AM

    I totally love uni, but it is so rich and strongly flavored it is best used as an accent for other foods. It pairs very well with fresh avocado, interestingly, and many other seafoods, particularly scallops. Good luck and let us know what you end up creating!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Tripeler
      hotoynoodle RE: Tripeler Jan 5, 2010 05:15 AM

      i am a freak for uni. one of my favorite foods on the planet. that being said, i prefer it in small portions, and have never had the vana grade. is the flavor stronger?

      how about this:

      oysters on the half-shell topped with uni mousse and caviar

      thin sliced smoked salmon with avocado, soft-boiled quail eggs and bonito flakes, topped with uni-sabayon sauce and shredded shiso leaves

      -- or-- a crab "parfait", with the crab, uni-sabayon and cucumber pearls, all layered topped with a quail egg, tangerine zest and tempura crumbs

      cappellini or spaghettini topped with an uni-mushroom sauce (use VERY mild mushrooms here, like oyster or crimini) to accompany miso-glazed black cod.

    2. t
      tissue RE: Pei Jan 5, 2010 12:41 AM

      Uni tempura, either wrapped in shiso or nori. Seared scallop with uni sauce.

      1. Yukari RE: Pei Jan 5, 2010 05:05 AM

        Here is a simple recipe for uni pasta. Be careful, it is addictive!


        Also, eating a lot of uni at one time may be overwhelming for your tummy. Consider spreading the uni out over several days. (spoken from experience)

        1. Pei RE: Pei Jan 5, 2010 06:31 AM

          Wow, thanks everyone! You are the best.

          And you're right; the more I thought about it the more I didn't want to eat uni for every course in one night. Maybe we'll do pasta and one of the suggestions with more visual pizazz, and I'll work my way through the other ideas slowly.

          Keep em' coming; either creative uni dishes or complementary dishes to cleanse the palate in between. Love the avocado idea; would never have occurred to me but those textures probably work really well together.

          1. w
            weezycom RE: Pei Jan 5, 2010 11:21 AM

            For dessert, how about a scoop of gelato (or a "scoop" of a liquor-infused genoise) dipped in chocolate and decorated with chocolate spines

            3 Replies
            1. re: weezycom
              Pei RE: weezycom Jan 5, 2010 04:14 PM

              Okay, it took me a second but after I visualized it I could not stop laughing!

              Where does one get chocolate spines? Any ideas?

              1. re: Pei
                weezycom RE: Pei Jan 5, 2010 07:10 PM

                I think you'd have to make them somehow. Maybe royal icing squeezed out from a small round tip into skinny tall cones, let dry and then dip into chocolate? Or a somewhat hard fudge that you can slice into long skinny wedges.

                1. re: weezycom
                  bushwickgirl RE: weezycom Jan 6, 2010 02:06 AM

                  There's a cake decorating tip #233 for grass or hair that does it or just use a butterknife and pull away from the icing (not as effective:)

                  On another note, lot's of great uni-ideas here! Love hotoynoodle's suggestions.

            2. todao RE: Pei Jan 5, 2010 07:39 PM


              1 Reply
              1. re: todao
                steamer RE: todao Jan 6, 2010 02:25 AM

                Here is a link to my uni pasta recipe. Uni doesn't stand up to other strong flavors very well so I kept it simple.

              2. b
                bex109 RE: Pei Jan 6, 2010 09:35 AM

                One of my favorite restaurants serves a great uni appetizer. Toast with avocado and uni, with just a hint of lemon

                1. l
                  llilibet RE: Pei Sep 17, 2010 12:57 PM

                  Did you actually order the vana and prepare the meal? If so, spill!

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