Look at these beauties! Last week I signed up for a really cool service called Fresh Catch, a local CSF (community supported fishery) who procure the very best seafood from traceable, sustainable sources every week and delivers it to your home. I immediately jumped at the chance when my friend Brenda sent me this link because I was smitten with the idea of having fresh sea urchin and can you believe that I signed up and was able to get urchin the next day!!! What?!!!! And look at how lively this was, it was literally trying to make a run for it…
The fresh local sea urchins are harvested by hand just outside of Half Moon Bay, via diving – which is the most sustainable method possible because it involves zero by catch and zero harm to our other precious resources in the Sea. I received an email earlier in the day saying that the sea urchins had been plucked from the sea that day, and included a link to this youtube video with encouraging words that helped us not be too freaked out about the whole thing. Mr. K opted for the most direct method…
The urchins were undulating wildly and very alive! It was fairly easy to whack them with the cleaver and them pull them open, but it is fundamentally unsettling because it is a live creature that cringes when you squeeze lemon onto its sweet creamy flesh.
I used a spoon and carefully scooped out the golden flesh which resembled tongues. They required quite a bit of rinsing and cleaning as there was a lot of effluvia and membranes along with stuff that just needed to be strained and removed out.
They thoughtfully included a sheet with recipe ideas (Sea Urchin bisque, Uni Bruschetta, Caviar Sea Urchin Pasta and Uni Shooters). We opted for Sea Urchin Pasta as we had no caviar but all of the rest of the ingredients. It was a simple preparation with butter, chives, grated parmesan cheese and a squeeze of fresh lemon that really showcased the sweet creamy flavors.
Sea Urchin Pasta
2 live sea urchins
1/2 stick butter
1 tablespoon water
fine sea salt
espelette pepper powder
1-1/2 tsp thinly sliced chives
1 Tblsp freshly ground parmesan cheese
fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 fresh lemon
Puree the sea urchin in a blender
Pass it through a fine mesh sieve (this step actually was necessary as there were bits of the hard carapace that made its way into the mound of urchin that I scooped out of the shell).
To finish the sauce, bring water to a boil in a small saucepan, whisk in butter, turn heat off, whisk in urchin. Season with salt and espelette pepper and keep warm.
Cook pasta as directed until al dente, drain.
Put chives in a stainless steel bowl, add warmed sauce, parmesan cheese and mix well. Season with salt and white pepper, add more grated cheese if you want.
Gently toss pasta with sauce.
To serve, gently twirl one half of the pasta and mound it in the center of a small bowl. Drizzle some of the remaining sauce around each mound. Squeeze the lemon juice over the pasta and sprinkle with chives. Serve immediately and swoon.