Extreme Cuisine – Sea Urchins
Small, spiny and round, the urchin looks more like a seed pod from a plant than a sea creature. One wonders how anyone could have ever entertained the idea of having one for dinner. That man or woman who first ate a sea urchin must have been very hungry, indeed. Considered a delicacy in many parts of the world, they can be eaten raw, as a fermented paste or cooked into an omelet. If you’re having trouble finding sea urchins, you’re not alone. Most supermarket fish departments don’t carry them. They’re actually available year round, so if you ask for them, your fishmonger should be able to provide you with some.
As soon as you’ve brought your urchins home, put them into a container and with a damp cloth. Keep them refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Always wear leather gloves when opening an urchin. Failing that, hold them with a thick kitchen towel. Using small, sharp scissors, carefully cut off the top quarter or half of the shell. Use a small spoon to gently remove the tangerine-like sections from the gut. Put aside several half shells to use for presentation. Wash them under running water and dry them well.
Try raw sea urchin with a garnish of lemon juice. If the urchin is left to marinate in a drizzle of oil and a squeeze of lemon juice, it becomes ceviche. If you’re not too keen on eating raw urchin, it can be poached for just a few minutes in its shell. Cook it in gently simmering water for about 5 minutes. Shell, sprinkle with salt, add to pasta or risotto and enjoy.