Tired of going to the restaurant to get your uni? This video answers the questions: What are sea urchins? What do you need to catch sea urchins? How do you catch sea urchins? How do you prepare sea urchins? And How do you eat sea urchins?
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Sea Urchins are small, spiny animals that live all across the world’s oceans. Where can you catch sea urchins? They can live in shallow or deep, hot or cold water—so you can find them pretty much anywhere. What do sea urchins eat? They feed on a wide range of foods: mussels, sea sponges, starfish are all fair game, but, the most wholesome sea urchin diet consists of algae.
They have spherical bodies covered with spines that, in some species can reach up to a foot in length. The spines are jointed at the root and assist in protection and movement. The urchin’s main mode of transport, though, are its hundreds of adhesive tube feet, radiating from around the bottom of it’s shell up to it’s mouth. The minority of sea urchin species are venomous and only one species, the innocuously named “Flower Urchin,” has been known to be deadly.
What you need to catch sea urchins:
The kit for catching sea urchins is extremely simple
1. Goggles: that one’s pretty self explanitory
2. Knife: really, anything hard and slender will work. You can use a screwdriver or even a spoon. Anything that can pry.
3. Bag. Something breathable or meshy works best. You want to be carrying the sea urchins with you, not water.
And that’s it! You need goggles, a knife and a bag and you’re ready to get amongst it!
How do you catch sea urchins?
Safety first. Depending on the location and types of the sea urchins you’re going after, this activity can be dangerous. Watch out for ocean currents that could take you over or into rocks and keep your knife sheathed or closed if you’re not using it. The spines of sea urchins themselves are not venomous but they can be painful if you don’t handle them gently. Gloves are a good addition to your kit if you have them.
Sea urchins are largely nocturnal so they hide in the crevices between rocks during the day. Once you spot one, swim down to it and push your implement underneath its body, then pry it off whatever it’s holding on to.
Some sea urchins are stuck on the rocks or in their crevices very strongly, and others aren’t! If one is stuck really tightly in a crevice, I find it best to move on, it’s not worth your energy and you don’t want to damage an animal that you are not going to eat. If you’re in a place with many sea urchins, you’ll be able to find an easier, more vulnerable one down the line.
You will pretty much never have need to cut the sea urchin, just get underneath of it, pry it off, and put it in your bag.
Once you’ve harvested enough to fill your bag or your stomach, you’re ready to prepare them to eat!
Preparing and Eating Sea Urchins
What we are after is the yellow/orange sea urchin roe, or eggs.
Sea Urchins, like all other organic matter, begin deteriorating as soon as they die, so you’ll want to prepare the urchins soon after they are out of the water.
Cutting a large, circular hole around the underside of the urchin is the best way to keep the edible part intact, but if you’re not as worried about presentation, I find it quickest and easiest to make two cuts into the shell of the urchin, allowing you to simply break it in half to retrieve the meat.
You can use a spoon to retrieve the edible, reproductive part of the animal, but I find that using your fingers can be more effective, especially because the roe quite delicate.
Across most of the world, sea urchins are eaten raw. In different countries, raw urchins are complimented by different ingredients: lemon, oil, soy sauce and wasabi are all used. In the mediterranian region, sea urchin is also used to flavor sauces.