Goodbye Bizarre Food
I consider myself adventurous. I love to try new things, just a month or so ago I cooked squid for the first time (ate it for the 40th time), last week I cooked and ate razor clams for the first time. I also have a long list of other crazy foods I’ve eaten, and never actually had a crazy food be something I didn’t like. Though some are a bit harder to convince yourself you should eat (like escargot)
This week, I opened my Gabe The Fish Babe box to find sea urchins. I totally flash-backed to all of the Top Chef episodes where chefs use them to add something new to their food, something briny, but rich, a pairing that evokes the deliciousness of seafood.
The little spines wave about circularly, and before long they were inching off of my cutting board. These particular sea urchins were dived for off of the coast of Massachusetts. I was slightly amused by the tiny waving spines and actually shot a video of it because it was that cool. (The live seafood we typically get are bi-valves-like clams and oysters and muscles and they aren’t nearly as interesting to watch)
Though I’ve seen chefs prepare this on tv, I knew that wasn’t enough so googled it. One youtube clip later and I realized it would be pretty simple. In spite of the scary looking spines all I’d need to conquer the sea urchins was a pair of kitchen shears, and a small spoon.
The small flower like circle is the mouth of the sea urchin, by slipping your kitchen shear in and snipping around the top edge you open up the cavity and can pour out the sea water that is inside. What you are left with is then unappetizing photo coming up on the left. Weird. Using my tiny spoon I scooped out the orange ‘roe’ leaving the black stuff behind. Of course it sounds simple, and it really was, but I couldn’t help but wonder if I should be wearing safety glasses as every snip of the shears caused pieces of shell and spines to fly. They don’t show that on tv!
Once the orange bits were scooped out you rinse them in a bowl of clean water, this helps you double check that you don’t have any shell fragments or tips of spines in your food, and also that none of the black stuff is going to end up in your food. I don’t know what it is, and I kind of don’t want to. So glad I rinsed, and rinsed and rinsed. After the third time I got clean water running off and felt a bit more confident in the food I was going to prepare! I imagine having a sea urchin shell in your sauce would be akin to having egg shell pieces in your pancakes. No good.
Once all 6 urchins were cleaned out I prepared them using the basic gist of this recipe: Sara Jenkin’s Sea Urchin Spaghetti Of course you know I tweaked it a bit, never seem to be able to follow a recipe even if I’m a bit on edge because of the protein.
In a food processor I took several cloves of garlic and blended them along with the sea urchin, 1/2 cup of lemon juice, then as the machine was running I poured in 1/2 cup of olive oil to aerate as it blended and whip it together which really helps actually blend the lemon juice (water based) with the sea urchin (water based) with the oil, which is obviously oil based, and water and oil don’t mix. Then I tossed the sauce and a liberal amount of parsley and chives with spaghetti. Easy.
The lemon really complements the salty flavors of the urchins, the olive oil plays up the umami in the dish and the combination of simple sauce and basic pasta makes it a dish even the most stringent of seafood haters would enjoy. It’s light and refreshing thanks to the citrus, and savory at the same time without being overwhelmingly rich.
I was slightly nervous about eating sea urchin. Why? I’d never had it before. I was the one solely in charge of making sure we didn’t die of food poisoning (though it is commonly eaten raw, and these were alive before I went at them with my kitchen shears, thankfully they stayed silent, so I knew they were fresh and we could have eaten them raw, next time!). And let’s face it, instead of eating roe which is how it was described in the recipe, it is actually gonads. Google if you dare. Ha!
So instead of reserving some of the orange sea urchin to add back on top like the recipe called for I blended it all into the sauce. So my spaghetti looked like it had a butter sauce on it, which really didn’t turn into a decent picture because all it looked like through my iPhone lens was wet noodles. Hence I’m finishing up my food post with a snagged photo from the recipe page.
So basically what I’m saying is this food that had me a bit scared to prepare was delicious, and Bryan and I were both glad to have some for lunch today. Trying new things is always exciting, and I’ll stand by sea urchin and declare them delicious, and totally worth the nerves and eye-risking snipping that went on.
I’m glad to add sea urchin to my list of bizarre foods, and will eat them again. Maybe next time raw. What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever eaten? Would you ever try sea urchin?