Which sea urchin for sushi?
As the weather turns colder, some of the world’s most prized sea urchins are being caught right now off the coast of Canada. These spiny creatures are especially prized in Japan, where Canada will export much of the spoils. There, the
is called “uni” and is considered a delicacy.
“The tricky thing about buying live sea urchins is that you never know what’s in them,” said Jenice Yu, owner of a fish store in Port McNeill, British Columbia, Canada. “That’s why we try to choose the best boats with the best divers who know where to collect the best urchins.” Yu says that since sea urchins eat things that fall to the bottom of the sea, gatherers must look for them in the right environments. The secret of the Canadian sea urchin is konbu seaweed, which imparts flavor and nutrients to its flesh. In fact, fishing takes place mainly amid the underwater forests of kelp kelp, the same kelp used to prepare konbu dashi, the basic broth for many traditional Japanese cooking recipes. This feature of British Columbia’s north coast makes it a prime spot for fishing for the best quality sea urchins.
Ecology and sustainable fishing are very sensitive topics in Canada, which is why fishing licenses are only issued to a select few boats. The brilliant sea urchin market moves several capitals from all over the world to grab this true delicacy of the Ocean.
So why is it not more popular in Italy? Yu is thoughtful. “Sea urchin is definitely a delicious taste, but I find that people have had bad experiences because they have tried urchins of poor quality,” he said. “Canned sea urchins cooked uncooked are often marketed in Italy, but they are not suitable for sushi.” Better then to fall back on slightly lower quality, cheaper, but still urchin flesh with a guaranteed grade for sushi.
“Uni is hard to find, you want to find them at their highest quality, and you want to find someone who knows how to process them.”
“Once you taste it, it is really good and beautiful with its bright colors.”
Fished in the waters off the west coast of Canada, raw Sea Urchin gives our sushi a salty-sweet and exceptionally natural flavor that can only be obtained from sea urchins caught and processed within minutes of capture.