Creamy Spaghetti with Sea Urchin

Fresh Sea Urchin, or Uni, is a delicacy that is often eaten in sushi bars, but it’s creamy consistency and light seafood taste make it a perfect ingredient to pair with pasta as well.  Uni paired with cream and garlic create an subtle and rich seafood pasta.

Fresh Sea Urchin, or Uni, is a delicacy that is often eaten in sushi bars, but it’s creamy consistency and light seafood taste make it a perfect ingredient to pair with pasta as well.  I usually buy my sea urchin in the market – it takes a lot of work to clean it yourself.  The edible part of the sea urchin is actually the gonads, or egg sacs, which are orange colored and inside the shell.  The shells are cracked open and the uni is carefully removed and stacked onto trays where they are sold to restaurants and markets.

Uni should taste soft a little sweet and briny.  If you find that your sea urchin tastes bitter it is because sometimes alum is added to help it hold its shape.  This is because the shape deteriorates over time and the alum is used to help it preserve its shape.  I avoid alum altogether by buying my sea urchin fresh and from a reputable market.

For this recipe use the freshest sea urchin you can find.  You won’t regret it- this pasta dish is absolutely amazing and once you try it you will want it every time you can get your hands on some fresh sea urchin.

A tray of fresh Uni

Creamy Spaghetti with Sea Urchin

Whenever I taste sea urchins It reminds me of the sea with its slightly briny and light taste.  I always try and get my sea urchin fresh and test it to be sure that there is no bitter taste.  Mash up half of the sea urchin for cooking in the cream sauce and the other half to top the pasta with.  ]sea urchin has a light and delicious taste and it is hard to overdo it.  For a creamier sauce, add some additional cream before heating.

 

PREP COOKING YIELD
5 mins 15 mins Serves 2
PREP 5 mins
COOKING 15 mins
YIELD Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup fresh uni (140g)
  • 3/8 cup half and half cream
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 TBSP butter (15g)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 lb dry spaghetti
  • 2 large shiso leaves
  • 1/2 cup thin sliced nori strips
  • 8 mitsuba (Japanese parsley) leaves

Instructions:

  • Chop up the mitsuba and shiso and set aside.
  • Mash up the uni with a spoon until it is combined, but leave some lumps in as well.

  • Cut the garlic into thin slices.
  • Prepare the spaghetti in accordance with directions.  Make sure the spaghetti is cooked Al dente (firm).
  • Prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking.
  • Sauté the garlic in the butter over medium heat in a saucepan until it is brown – about 3 minutes.

  • Turn down to low.  Add 2 TBSPs Sea urchin, the cream and the salt and pepper.  Heat until warm to the touch (but do not boil).  The cream will thicken.

  • Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and toss in the sauce while still hot.

  • Split into two bowls to serve.  Sprinkle with mitsuba and shiso.  Top with sliced nori and a dollop of uni.

Notes:

  • I use salted butter in this recipe- if you use unsalted butter add a pinch of sea salt to the pan when you sauté the garlic.
  • Don’t be shy to pile on the dried nori when finished.  The nori adds an additional layer of ocean flavor to this delicious pasta.
  • Shiso leaves are used frequently in Japanese cooking and impart a unique and refreshing flavor.  If you don’t have shiso then you can substitute fresh Italian Parsley or Mitsuba (Japanese Parsley).

 

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