Perhaps one of the best examples of “do not judge a book by its cover”, sea urchins with their spine-covered bodies have moved from being a Japanese staple to being sought after around the world by seafood lovers in the regions where they can be found.
Albeit this, most will disagree as to whether having sea urchins improves the seafood palette or whether they taste exactly how they look; weird and better left alone. Like most seafood, judging what a sea urchin tastes like goes just beyond the taste itself; the freshness and texture have to be taken into consideration if one is to have the best experience possible.
With over 800 species of sea urchins to choose from and varying accounts of their taste, here’s all you need to know about what sea urchins taste like and everything in between – from price ranges to how to eat them. Enjoy!
What Does Sea Urchin Taste Like?
Sea urchins taste like the sea. Funny answer, I know… but there’s no better way to explain it. Imagine all the flavor of the sea with a lot less salt and a hint of sweetness, that’s what a sea urchin tastes like.
It doesn’t taste or smell like fish and it never should. If you ever perceive a fishy smell from a sea urchin, it’s either bad or contaminated! A sea urchin should taste like oysters or caviar but milder, with a creamy/buttery texture. The taste is usually influenced by the water and climate in the region where it is found and those found in Santa Barbara and Hokkaido are said to have the best tastes.
The five (5) edible stripes of meat that are the only edible part of sea urchins are best eaten fresh (preferably raw), as it has a very short shelf life with both the texture and the taste beginning to change within hours. When kept for too long, sea urchins can taste bitter and usually have a runny texture.
What Does Sea Urchin Roe Taste Like?
Sea urchin roe are not actually roe (eggs) but the gonads that produce roe. The gonads are 5 edible stripes of meat within its shell and they taste a little briny and sweet with all the richness of the sea infused in each mouthful. The meat is usually anything from a brilliant gold color to light yellow, with a creamy/buttery texture.
Also referred to as “Uni” by the Japanese, both the male and female gonads are edible, with very slight differences in taste – if any. It is important to remember that if sea urchin “roe” tastes sour, sharp, or like fish, it is most likely bad.
Does Sea Urchin Taste Fishy?
No, sea urchin does not taste fishy. Fresh sea urchin should give that feeling of the sea, slightly briny and sweet, with a creamy/buttery feel. If it tastes or smells fishy, do not eat it.
Is Sea Urchin Yummy?
Yes, sea urchin is yummy but an appreciation of it tends to be an acquired taste. To those who like the sea-like taste, nothing could be yummier. There’s also the creamy/buttery feel it has that is considered its best-selling point by most, yet shuddered at by others. To discover what it is like for yourself, be sure that your sea urchin is served fresh for the best experience.
How Expensive Is Sea Urchin?
Good sea urchin can be very expensive; over $1 a pound. This is one time when higher prices mean better experiences because you’ll be sure of getting fresh and top-notch sea urchins. If the price is too good to be true, it’s most likely not good.
There are a lot of reasons why this is so, from how they are caught to their shelf life and seasonal nature. Sea urchins cannot be reared, so they must be caught in their natural habitat, and even this can only be done manually – making it a labor and time-intensive effort. Let’s not forget the cleaning and separation of the edible parts, which can only be done manually as well.
They also have a very short shelf life as their texture and taste begin to change within hours, and can only be stored for about five days before they become loose and runny. Sea urchin is only available in a particular season and cannot be frozen – a reason why not a lot of places are willing to risk having it on their menu.
All these simply mean that there is always more demand for it than can be met, and we all know what happens when there’s more demand than supply…high prices.
Does Sea Urchin Taste Good?
Yes, sea urchins taste good. They make a great addition to other meals and are perfect even when eaten on their own. Sea urchins also offer a lot of nutritional benefits, from omega 3 fatty acids to zinc and lots more. Check out the nutritional value of sea urchins here.
How Do You Eat Sea Urchin?
The best and most common way is to eat Sea Urchin like you would an oyster or sushi is raw – even right there at a fish market after purchase. They are also considered an awesome addition to sushi for those who love them and are added to various seafood dishes. However you choose to eat them, try to do so as soon as they are caught from the sea, while they are still alive and fresh; the spines on its body should still be moving.
Read also: What does Canada Goose Taste Like?
Sea urchins are a nutritious and tasty addition to any seafood palette and come highly recommended if you do not mind a bit of adventure. Try it out at a reputable seafood restaurant or right at a fish market, and who knows? It might just be the best thing you’ve ever tasted yet.