Fresh sea urchins: it’s on menus worldwide, yet they have a strange, unnatural look that’s all too unappealing for those who have never tried them. Coming from large, spiky balls, one can only wonder if it’s a creature we should even be messing with, let alone eating. Well, rest assured, they’re completely safe.
This brings us to taste. Are the orange gonads of the ocean aliens worth the price, or are they overhyped like many class-act foods?
We say yes! They’re entirely worth it. If you need a little more convincing, then here are 6+ reasons why fresh sea urchin is a must-try delicacy.
Sea Urchins are the Butter of the Sea
It’s strange to say, but sea urchins are frequently compared to butter, both in texture and taste. Aside from the silky smooth, melt-in-your-mouth profile of the orange flesh, they also provide a mildly sweet, briny flavor, complete with a slight saltiness that reminds you of the sea.
If you like tender sea creatures, you barely have to chew; fresh sea urchins might be for you!
No Cooking Required
The best way to eat sea urchins is fresh and completely raw. While you can cook the spiny sea creature, it’s highly recommended you don’t unless you’re using it in a sauce.
The purest way to enjoy urchin is straight from the shell with a little squeeze of lemon, similar to an oyster or a clam.
It Makes Great Sushi
If you’re a fan of sushi, then you’ll be happy to know that sea urchin, or “uni,” is a delicacy in Japan and a widely used ingredient in sushi. It’s most commonly served as sashimi or nigiri and pairs best with a little bit of soy sauce and a tiny smear of real wasabi.
Given that Japan is one of the biggest consumers of sea urchins, you’ll probably find it most abundantly at Japanese restaurants and Asian markets, especially if you live in America, where the animal isn’t as abundantly eaten.
It’s Pretty Darn Healthy
As is the case with many sea creatures, sea urchin is exceptionally good for you when eaten in moderation.
To be specific, sea urchins are a phenomenal source of protein, dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins. They’re also an excellent supplier of omega-3 fatty acids and are pretty low in calories. Eating sea urchins regularly can help promote heart and brain health and may support weight loss as well.
The Sea Urchin is an Invasive Species
While this isn’t inherently beneficial, sea urchins are extremely dangerous to marine life, specifically coral reefs and other ocean ecosystems. They destroy habitats and are a big threat to a variety of other sea creatures, such as the sea star.
So what are conservationists and scuba divers doing to fight back? They’re eating them, of course!
Unlike many other kinds of seafood, sea urchins are far from endangered, and eating them can actually help the environment. Not only are they a healthy eating option, but you can consume them excessively without any guilt.
Sea Urchins are Harvested Sustainably
Most sea urchins are harvested by hand, which avoids the pollution, overfishing, and destructive nature of commercial fishing. Not only this but if you’re the adventurous type, there are many opportunities for you to get out there and dive on your own.
The only downside to this is that the yield of each catch is low, considering the only edible part of the urchin is its gonads. This means that they are relatively expensive and scarce in supply.
Can you eat fresh sea urchin?
Yes, you can eat fresh sea urchin! Not only are they non-poisonous, but they’re sustainable and completely delicious.
What does fresh sea urchin taste like?
Sea urchins have a creamy, butter-like texture with a sweet and briny taste. They have a fragrance that reminds you of the ocean, and eating them provides a potent “umami” experience rich with savory flavor.
Is eating sea urchin healthy?
Yes, eating sea urchin is incredibly healthy. They’re filled to the brim with vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids and are part of a well-balanced diet. They host a variety of benefits, such as promoting heart health, brain function, digestion, and your immune system.
Can you get sick from raw sea urchin?
Like eating anything raw, there is a risk of contracting a virus or parasite from the creature, though this can be minimized by only sourcing them from credible suppliers and eating them fresh.
Overall, eating raw sea urchin is safe, but if you’re still concerned about it, the FDA recommends you freeze the meat before consumption.